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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 7

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Verse 1

1Co 7:1

1 Corinthians 7:1

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote:—The Co­rinthians had written to the apostle inquiring in reference to certain matters of duty. Among others, the relation of hus­band and wife, when they could separate, when they were guilty of fornication, and other questions connected with the marriage relation.

It is good for a man not to touch a woman.—Not to be con­nected with woman in marriage. This he teaches not as a general truth, for he does not contradict God, who said: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.” (Genesis 2:18). In verse 26, he explains, “that this is good by reason of the distress that is upon us, namely, that it is good for a man to be as he is.” The “dis­tress” means the persecution then raging against the Chris­tians. On account of these it was best if a man could restrain his lusts not to be married. There are some special cases, as of Paul himself, in which a man can devote himself without the care and distractions of a family to the service of God. But more evil than good comes of attempting it by those who cannot be continent. It is true now, as in the beginning, that “it is not good that the man should be alone.” And the uni­versality of marriage is a mark of the morality and virtue of a community.

Verses 1-2

1Co 7:1-2

CELIBACY IS LAWFUL

BUT MAY NOT BE EXPEDIENT

1 Corinthians 7:1-2

1 Corinthians 7:1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: - Now concerning the things about which you wrote (NASV). This begins a new section of the book, which comprises the remainder of it, in which Paul deals with questions sent to him. In this whole chapter he deals with the questions pertaining to marriage. Later he will take up things offered to idols (1 Corinthians 8:1), spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1), the contribution (1 Corinthians 16:1), and a number of other problems, all of which were probably a part of the letter to him. In each case we have his answer but we do not have their question. It is good--It is lawful, proper, commendable, well, right, permissible, or acceptable. This does not mean that it is the best, or even better, but rather that it is lawful for one to remain unmarried. Marriage is a choice. If one chooses not to marry (providing he can maintain his purity), that is acceptable. for a man not to touch a woman. - The word touch probably means not to cohabit with her sexually, and the only permissible cohabitation is marriage; hence the meaning is that it is good (acceptable to God) for a man not to marry. The question before Paul may have been, "In view of the fact that marriage is a divine institution, and that it is necessary to the propagation of humankind, is it lawful for a Christian to remain unmarried?" Paul responds, "Yes, it is lawful but [as is seen in v. 2] it may not be expedient" (1 Corinthians 6:12). There are two extremes to be guarded against: (1) Marriage is absolutely essential if he is to obey God (e.g., Genesis 1:28; Genesis 2:18). (2) Those who attain the highest purity and are totally committed to Christ must not marry. The truth lies between the two extremes. While marriage is of God and is necessary to His reproductive plans, and while the male and female bodies are so constructed as to both need and desire the companionship of marriage, He has left the decision to each individual. If he chooses not to marry (which means to refrain from all sexual activity), his choice is lawful or good. There is nothing wrong with that. But on the other hand, if he cannot control his sexual desires, he has no option but to marry. One must thus choose between the unmarried state without sexual fulfillment or the married state and sexual fulfillment. Both are good in their place and under proper circumstances, but one cannot have both. For those who can control their bodies, it is good (lawful) not to marry; for all others, marriage is the right course. In fact, it is mandatory.

1 Corinthians 7:2 Nevertheless, But (ASV). Introducing a contrast to v. 1. While the celibate state is good (lawful) it is not expedient for everyone. Rather for the vast majority, it is not good to be alone (Genesis 2:18). to avoid fornication, - But because of the temptation to immorality (RSV). While it is good not to marry (if one can contain, v. 9), everyone in that state cannot live chastely; hence God’s answer to sexual impurity is marriage. let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let everyone who desires to fill his sexual needs marry. While some, with Paul (vv. 7,40) would choose to remain unmarried, this was not to be bound upon anyone as a matter of law (vv. 9, 28, 36; 1 Timothy 4:3). To the contrary, Paul commands them to let each have his own mate. Sexual purity is not the only reason to marry, but it is a prime one prime because it is fundamental to God’s purpose for the body (1 Corinthians 6:12-20) and because God has limited all sexual satisfaction to marriage.

Verse 2

1Co 7:2

1 Corinthians 7:2

But, because of fornications, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.—Recogniz­ing that but few men can be continent and that the lusts with men and women are strong and liable to lead to sin, he tells them the best way to avoid sin is for every man to have his own wife and every woman to have her own husband. He rec­ognizes that both men and women are liable to be led into sin by the strength of lusts. They are both restricted to one companion.

Verse 3

1Co 7:3

1 Corinthians 7:3

Let the husband render unto the wife her due:—After their marriage, the husband must satisfy the wife in her de­sires, lest she be tempted to do wrong with other men.

and likewise also the wife unto the husband.—The wife must please the husband in his desires lest he be tempted to seek unlawful gratification of his passions with other women.

Verses 3-5

1Co 7:3-5

MARITAL PRIVILEGES

AND OBLIGATIONS

1 Corinthians 7:3-5

1 Corinthians 7:3 Let the husband render - Let him keep on rendering. unto the wife due benevolence: - The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife (NIV). The KJV is extremely delicate here, but the thought is clear, especially in the NIV: the wife has a sexual need and it is the duty of the hus­ band to fill it (d. Exodus 21:10). This proves conclusively that sexual enjoyment was not meant to be the exclusive right of the male. It was designed by God as a mutual exchange. and likewise also the wife unto the husband. - And a wife should do the same for her husband (Beck). The husband also has physical needs (usually conceived of as stronger and more demanding than those of the wife), and it is the duty of the wife to satisfy them. This is God’s plan, God’s order, God’s command. The husband and wife have mutual needs, mutual privileges, and mutual obligations. They are to satisfy each other in order to prevent being tempted by the appeal of fornication. It is therefore an error of vast magnitude to conclude, as some have done, especially in the Middle Ages, that sexual activity in marriage is a necessary evil. Quite to the contrary, when two are one (that is, when they are married), their intimate relations are by the design and will of God. This means that they are both honorable and pure (Hebrews 13:4), the highest expression of the deepest mutual love, and the most enriching physical experience created by God for human pleasure.

1 Corinthians 7:4 The wife hath not power of her own body, - The wife’s body does not belong to her alone (NIV). In marrying she transferred authority over it to the husband. but to the husband: - It is her husband’s (Goodspeed). He has a divine and exclusive right to it, and thus has power or authority over it. and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body,--In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone (NIV). but the wife. - It is his wife’s (Goodspeed). When two marry, each gives his body to the other. Sexually they transfer all rights to their mate. Let each recognize this principle, and practice it, and adultery will be all but annihilated from the earth. What wife would give that which belongs exclusively to her (the conjugal rights to her husband’s body) to a harlot? Only the most depraved. Yet she alone (even if it were right and permissible by God, which it is not) would have the right to do so. No husband has the right (even apart from the argument against fornication presented in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20) to take that which belongs exclusively to his wife and share it with another. The same, of course, is true of a wife. Sex­ ually, then, the wife controls the husband’s body and the husband controls the wife’s. This makes unfaithfulness on the part of either unthinkable.

1 Corinthians 7:5 Defraud - Stop depriving (NASV). ye not one the other, - That is, do not deny each other his sexual dues. except it be with consent for a time, - Unless you agree to do so just for a while (Williams). While marital partners may abstain with mutual consent for a specified time or for a specific reason, they do not have the right to withhold sexual privileges from each other (v. 4). that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; The pur­ pose for the mutual consent to abstain for a season is that they might have leisure or be free to pray - devote themselves to religious service. Fasting here lacks strong manuscript support and is omitted by the ASV and most other modern translations. Abstinence is not to be permanent. It is only for a short time to enable them to accomplish a specific goal. and come together again, - Then come together again (NIV). End the period of abstinence and come together again sexually. that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. Or the devil will tempt you (Beck). Lest through your weakness or inability to control yourself sexually you give Satan an advantage (2 Corinthians 2:11).

Verse 4

1Co 7:4

1 Corinthians 7:4

The wife hath not power over her own body, but the hus­band:—The wife has not power over her own body to refuse the marriage privileges to the husband.

and likewise also the husband hath not power over his own body, but the wife.—The husband has not the power over his body to refuse the marriage privileges to the wife, neither has he the right to bestow them upon others. In the marriage ob­ligations they surrender the power over their bodies to the other. [Marriage is not a capricious union, but a holy bond, in which separate ownership of person ceases, and neither without the other realizes the perfect ideal of man. This equality of the sexes is clearly presented as the way to keep marriage undefiled.]

Verse 5

1Co 7:5

1 Corinthians 7:5

Defraud ye not one the other, except it be by consent for a season,—They are not to deprive each other of these marriage rights to which each is entitled except by mutual consent.

that ye may give yourselves unto prayer,—It is proper by agreement to refrain from indulgence in this fleshly enjoy­ment or gratification while engaged in special seasons of prayer.

and may be together again, that Satan tempt you not be­cause of your incontinency.—After the period of self-denial has passed they must come together, lest through inability to restrain their lusts, Satan should tempt one or both to sin with others.

Verse 6

1Co 7:6

1 Corinthians 7:6

But this I say by way of concession, not of command­ment.—[He leaves the details of their lives, whether married or unmarried, to their individual circumstances, for what is suitable in one case may be the reverse in another.]

Verses 6-9

1Co 7:6-9

MARRIAGE IS A CHOICE

1 Corinthians 7:6-9

1 Corinthians 7:6 But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. ­ But I mean this as a concession, not a command (Goodspeed). The KJV can be understood to mean that Paul is speaking by permission of the Lord and not by His command. But I think Goodspeed more correctly renders the concept, showing that none are commanded to marry but are given permission to do so when there is a need (and the vast majority have the need). That is, marriage is by permission, not by command. If one can control his sexual desires, he may remain single (vv. 7-8), but otherwise he should marry (v. 9). Here I agree with MacKnight that this has reference to what follows rather than what precedes, as most commentators think. I see the whole section (vv. 6-9) as saying you have permission to marry but you are not commanded to do so. Furthermore, this statement says nothing about a lack of inspiration. The fact about the matter is that Paul is giving an inspired permission rather than an inspired command.

1 Corinthians 7:7 For I would that all men were even as myself. I wish that all men were as I am (NIV). That is, unmarried (1 Corinthians 9:5), content, and in full control of his physical desires. The wish here is surely limited to "the present distress" (v. 26), to certain times and circumstances; otherwise he would be wishing the absolute end of man: for God has no plan for procreation outside of marriage. But every man hath his proper gift of God, Each one has the natural abilities which God gives him. Gift here has no reference to miraculous gifts, such as are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10, but to that which is given by God through His natural laws. But the source of both the natural and the miraculous is God (James 1:17). He made each one for a purpose (He made Adam miraculously and all other naturally) and with special needs and abilities. But the purpose of the total man, whatever he is or whatever he has, is to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31; Revelation 4:11). Thus if God gives one the gift of continence (as He had Paul) he should exercise that gift and glorify God without the distraction and obligations which come with a wife; if one does not have the gift to control himself (and most do not have) he should glorify God within the confines of marriage. Whether to marry or remain single is one’s personal choice, but to glorify God is not that is his purpose and duty. Everything should thus be done for the glory of God. one after this manner, and another after that. - One able to live celibate and the other in marriage. But whether one marries or remains unmarried, it should be to God’s glory.

1 Corinthians 7:8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, -MacKnight renders this, "I say, then, to the unmarried men, and to the widows." This makes good sense, especially in view of the fact that virgins at that time had little or no choice in their marriage because it was arranged for them by the parents (1 Corinthians 7:36-38). But it seems better here to understand it as all who are without marital attachment or obligation, including widows whose unmarried state was likely to work a financial hardship on them. It is good - Desirable or permissible under the present distress (1 Corinthians 7:26; see note on v. 1). for them if they abide even as I. - For them to remain unmarried as Paul was. But this would be true only if they had the gift of self-control (v. 7). Thus this should not be interpreted to mean that it is best or even better for all to remain single. The next v. shows that it is better for some to marry. It is good to remain out of mar­ riage only if one can bridle and control his desires. Paul’s wish is that all could under the present distress be free from the need to marry, but he was practical enough to recognize that this was not the case (1 Timothy 5:14). To him marriage was a beautiful relationship (Ephesians 5:22-33) and to prohibit it was a mark of the apostasy (1 Timothy 4:3).

1 Corinthians 7:9 But if they cannot contain, - But if they cannot control themselves (NIV) or practice self-restraint in the single state, they should marry. Some have the gift of self-control (v. 7; cf. Matthew 19:10-12); others do not. let them marry: - Let them choose a mate to whom they are willing to be bound for life, thus preventing fornication (v. 2) while permitting sexual satisfaction in purity. for it is better to marry than to burn. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion (RSV). It was better, even under the distressing circumstances of that day (1 Corinthians 7:26), to marry than to be constantly consumed with a burning and raging desire. God made both male and female with a powerful sexual need. He provided marriage so that the need could be gratified in purity. The need is stronger in some than in others. Some have the gift of self-control, they need not marry; others live in constant need - they should marry. But the choice is left to each individual. God neither commands nor prohibits marriage, but He does demand purity. Thus if one cannot remain pure in thought and in body, that is, reasonably restrain his desires, it is better to marry.

Verse 7

1Co 7:7

1 Corinthians 7:7

Yet I would that all men were even as I myself.—He again expresses the wish that all were as he was, able to live without marriage.

Howbeit each man hath his own gift from God, one after this manner, and another after that.—One has ability or strength to control one appetite or lust, another is gifted with abilities to do some kind of work, another after a different kind. So each must act as he is able. He who can live and control himself without marriage should do so. One who is not able to control himself had better marry.

Verse 8

1Co 7:8

1 Corinthians 7:8

But I say to the unmarried and to widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.—It is good for them to remain single even as he did. [Paul had vividly before his mind the trials and persecutions to which the Christians were sub­jected. What was expedient “by reason of the distress” might not be desirable under other conditions. And similarly “good” might cease to be so under changed conditions. Elsewhere Paul says, “Let marriage be had in honor among all.” (Hebrews 13:4). And he speaks of marriage with the greatest respect when he elevates it to the loftiest position by employing it as a type of the union between Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:23-32). He also pronounces the prohibition of marriage to be one of the signs of the great apostasy. (1 Timothy 4:3). We are, therefore, driven to the conclusion that the statement here in no way conflicts with “it is not good that the man should be alone.” (Genesis 2:18). A single life is good in the sense of being in itself honorable, and under cer­tain circumstances expedient.]

Verse 9

1Co 7:9

1 Corinthians 7:9

But if they have not continency, let them marry:—If they have not power over themselves to restrain their sexual pas­sions, let them marry.

for it is better to marry than to bum.—It was better to marry even under the distress in which they were living than to burn with lusts [raging, consuming, and exciting] which they were not able to subdue. [The one, though disadvanta­geous, is innocent, the other is sinful.]

Verse 10

1Co 7:10

1 Corinthians 7:10

But unto the married I give charge, yea not I, but the Lord,—He now gives command from the Lord to those al­ready married. Under the law of Moses they had been per­mitted to be separated when displeased. But Jesus told the Pharisees that Moses permitted this because of the hardness of their hearts, but it was not God’s law of marriage as or­dained in the beginning. The man must leave all others and cleave unto his wife, “and the two shall become one flesh.” (Matthew 19:3-9).

That the wife depart not from her husbandPaul, follow­ing the teaching of Jesus, commands the wife not to depart from her husband.

Verses 10-11

1Co 7:10-11

THE LORD INSTRUCTS THE MARRIED

1 Corinthians 7:10-11

1 Corinthians 7:10 And unto the married I command, - To the people already married I give this instruction (Williams). He had given his advice to those who choose to remain single and those who would need to marry (1 Corinthians 7:8-9), but now he turns his attention to those already married, thus moving from advice to command. Some think the context here limits marriage to two believers, but in my judgment it includes all marriages but such as are specifically exempted (1 Corinthians 7:12-15; Matthew 19:9). In short, 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 states the general rule and 1 Corinthians 7:12-15 discuss an exception to the rule in the case of unbelievers who would choose not to continue the marriage with believers. yet not I, but the Lord, - The command had already been given by the Lord personally. He is simply restating what Christ taught in His personal ministry here on earth concerning the break­ ing of the marriage bond by divorce (Matthew 19:3-9). Paul is not making a distinction between the Lord’s commands and that which was delivered through His inspired apostles. The point (both here and in v. 12) is not between the Lord’s commands and Paul’s opinions, an inspired and an uninspired statement, but between what the Lord had said personally and what He is now saying through His apostles. See note on v. 12. Let not the wife depart from her husband: - The wife must not leave her husband (BV). That is, she must not destroy the marriage by separation or divorce. Since the body of the wife belongs to the husband (1 Corinthians 7:3-4), she has no right to deprive him of it by separating herself from him. Separation is not an option of a Christian. As far as I can determine there is no case when a Christian would be justified in being the cause of a broken marriage. He may break the marriage when fornication has been committed by his partner (Matthew 19:9); or he may consent to the departure of an unbelieving mate (1 Corinthians 7:12-15), thus ending the marriage relationship when it’s the unbeliever’s choice. But in no case should he be the cause of the dissolution.

1 Corinthians 7:11 But and if she depart, If she has separated (Moffett). If she has left her husband contrary to the command of God. let her remain unmarried,-- She must remain unmarried (NIV). Since her separation or divorce was contrary to God’s will, that is, for an unscriptural cause, she is not at liberty to marry another. And if she does remarry, contrary to the Lord’s command, she commits adultery (Matthew 19:9). or be reconciled to her husband: Her obligation to him, the fact that her body is his, did not change simply because she left or divorced him. She had only two options before her: she could remain unmarried (but only if she could control her passions) or she could restore the marriage by reconciliation. These are Paul’s clear instructions to one who is not remarried. But what is to be done in cases where there is a second marriage after divorce? As far as I can determine, Paul gave no instructions for such cases. Under the law, if a woman divorced by her husband married another man she could never, under any circumstance, return to her former husband (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Under the NT system could one put away his second mate and return to the first without sin? Or would such be prohibited by the principle (not the law per se but the principle back of the law) of Deuteronomy 24:1-4? Since there are no explicit instructions in the NT as to the correct procedure in such cases, we must arrive at our conclusions by studying all the principles involved. Others may legislate in the absence of specific instructions, but I choose not to do so. and let not the husband put away his wife. - Let him not leave or divorce her. What has just been said of the wife is true also of the husband. They both have a divine obligation (or command from the Lord Himself) to maintain the marriage. It is vital to understand this concept, this divine obligation that is imposed upon every married Christian, in order to properly under­ stand 1 Corinthians 7:12-15. Since this is the subject under discussion, it is then obvious that the word bondage in v. 15 has reference, not to the marriage bond per se, but to the divine obligation to maintain the marriage.

Verse 11

1Co 7:11

1 Corinthians 7:11

(but should she depart, let her remain unmarried,—If she and her husband cannot live harmoniously together let her re­main unmarried. She is not permitted to marry again. That would be adulterous.

or else be reconciled to her husband);—If the wife who has separated from her husband finds that, after all, she cannot live a single life in purity the only course open to her is to be reconciled to the husband whom she has injured. The same thing applies to the husband under similar circumstances.

and that the husband leave not his wife.—This passage un­doubtedly teaches that the believer is to take no steps to hinder the restoration of the marriage relations, but to be ready to seek to restore them. Divorce is intended to make the separa­tion permanent and to make unlawful marriage possible. No Christian can do this. Nothing severs the marriage relation­ship between Christians save the sin of adultery.

No man or woman with a living wife or husband not guilty of adultery can marry another without adultery, and no lapse of time will purge the cohabitation of its sinfulness. The one who separates from the other tempts the other to commit adultery. One in a state of sin cannot become a Christian or live a Christian life without making an earnest endeavor to correct that wrong. Repentance involves the confession of all our sins as occasion may demand, and of our undoing our wrongs, as far as in our power. A failure to do so shows a lack of faith from the heart and of genuine repentance towards God. Neither the woman nor the man with whom she cohab­its can live the Christian life without ceasing their adulter­ous relationship. No service is acceptable to God unless done because God requires it, and done to obey him. The great trouble on this question is not a failure to understand the teaching of the Bible, but a lack of faith and courage to do what it requires.

Verse 12

1Co 7:12

1 Corinthians 7:12

But to the rest say I, not the Lord:—[The contrast here and in verse 10 is not between commands given by Paul as an inspired apostle and as a private individual. He expressly claims that all “the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37), and he speaks of that knowledge into which he was guided as given by the Holy Spirit, as “by the word of the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:15). He must therefore not be regarded as here claiming apostolic authority for some things he writes and not for others. The real point of the contrast is between a subject on which the Lord while on earth gave direct instruction, and another subject on which he now gives his commands through an inspired apostle, as was promised by Jesus on the night of his be­trayal: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:13). The Lord had given instructions regarding divorce (Matthew 5:31-32; Matthew 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18), and Paul here has only reiterated what he had already commanded.]

If any brother hath an unbelieving wife, and she is content to dwell with him, let him not leave her.—Hitherto his direc­tion has been to them when both husband and wife were Christians. He now introduces another class. Sometimes in the preaching of the gospel, a husband would believe and the wife would not. The fact that the provision is here made by Paul for them to separate when the unbeliever is unwilling to live with the believer, with the direction that a widow may marry “only in the Lord” (verse 39), and that Christians are forbidden to be “unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14)—to be so tied to them as to be controlled by them— clearly suggests that it is not well for believers to marry un­believers, nor to enter into any relation by which they would be controlled by unbelievers. But he gives directions to those who found themselves so married to them. If the unbelieving wife is content to dwell with the believing husband, let him not depart.

Verses 12-15

1Co 7:12-15

BELIEVERS MARRIED TO UNBELIEVERS

1 Corinthians 7:12-15

1 Corinthians 7:12 But to the rest - Those not specifically covered (the exemptions to the general rule) in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, namely, the believer who is married to an unbeliever who is not willing to continue the marriage. Christians have a divine obligation to keep the marriage intact (v. 10), and if it is broken to restore it (1 Corinthians 7:11), but there is an exception to this rule, a case in which this obligation is not imposed on the believer. No one, not even the unbeliever, has a divine right to dissolve a marriage. But unbelievers do not respect the law of God and thus the believer is not to try to force that law upon him. If the unbeliever chooses to violate God’s law pertaining to marriage, the Christian, as an innocent party, is released from his obligation to maintain the marriage. speak I, not the Lord:--I say, not the Lord (NASV). The Lord had personally given the general rule which obligated marital partners to maintain their marriage (Matthew 19:6), but He had not personally addressed Himself to this exception. The contrast here (see 1 Corinthians 7:10) is not between an inspired command of Christ and Paul’s uninspired opinion, but rather between that which the Lord had spoken personally and that which He is now speaking through His inspired apostle. Paul spoke by inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 3:15-16) and he closed this chapter by reminding the Corinthians that he had the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 7:40). Everything he wrote was to be considered the commandments of the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:37). So it is an error of great magnitude to interpret this or any passage to mean that Paul is only expressing a human opinion. When he spoke he spoke for the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:19-21). His judgments (1 Corinthians 7:25; 1 Corinthians 7:40) are the judgments of the Lord. Thus this v. is not mak­ ing a distinction between divine and human commandments, but between divine commandments delivered personally by the Lord and divine command­ments given through His inspired spokesman. If any brother--A Christian. That is, if he is married to an unbeliever or non-Christian. and she be pleased to dwell with him,-

-If she is willing to maintain the marriage. In such marriages there are always problems, but few if any that would justify the Christian in instigating its dissolution. Whether the marriage is maintained depends on the attitude of the unbeliever, not the believer. let him not put her away. - Evidently the Jewish law required (at least under some circumstances) that the non-Israelite woman be put away (Ezra 9:1 to Ezra 10:44). Was this to be practiced by Christians? The rule of no separation applies to them. The believer thus has no option from God but to maintain the marriage, except when the unbeliever departs (1 Corinthians 7:15).

1 Corinthians 7:13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. - What was true of a Christian husband married to an unbelieving wife is also true of a Christian wife married to an unbelieving husband (see note on v. 12). The change from "Let him not put her away" in v. 12 to "Let her not leave him" here, while meaning basically the same thing, reflects the cultural status of a husband and wife at that time. The husband could send the wife away from the home but the wife could not so send the husband away. (Incidentally, Deuteronomy 24:1-4 was probably given, not to permit divorce per se for every cause, but to protect the woman from this injustice. A man under the law could not just drive her out, depriving her of home and property; he had to divorce her so that she would be free to form another union and thus to establish for herself another home.) Where Christianity has gone and influenced the changing of customs and the making of civil laws, the tendency has been toward giving the woman an equal right with the man. For this we can be grateful. Thus all Christians, whether male or female, have a divine obligation to maintain their marriage. Divorce is not an option for them (except when the unbeliever is the instigator).

1 Corinthians 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife,--This gives the reason why the believer is not to depart from the unbeliever, as stated in 1 Corinthians 7:12-13. The word sanctified cannot mean the same here as in 1:2 because salvation is an individual matter that is, the faith of one cannot pro­ duce salvation in another (Ezra 18:20; Romans 3:9; Romans 3:23; Romans 5:12; Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Acts 17:30; Mark 16:16). Thus Paul does not mean that the faith of the wife will save (or bring into the benefits of covenant relationship) the unbelieving husband and children. What then does he mean by being sanctified or made holy? It seems obvious to me from the context that he has in view the marriage relationship. His point is that the marriage is not made impure just because one or the other is an unbeliever. Rather the opposite is true: God recognizes the marriage as pure. Thus it is sanctified or holy and cannot be broken by the believer.--and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband:--What is true of the wife-husband relationship is also true of the husband-wife relationship. It is holy (Hebrews 13:4). else were your children unclean; Otherwise your children would be unclean (NIV). That is, if your marriage was not sanctified, your children would be the results of an illegitimate union. but now are they holy. - But as it is, they are holy (KIV). The marriage is pure; the children are therefore holy - they are the fruit of a legitimate (or sanctified) union.

1 Corinthians 7:15 But if the unbelieving depart, - If the non-Christian leaves or divorces the believer. let him depart. Let the separation stand (Williams). Let him terminate the marriage. The believer is not to try to force the unbeliever to maintain the marital duties. And in this sense the Christian must submit to the will of the non-Christian. He has no right himself (in fact, no one has the right, but unbelievers are not concerned with rights) to break up the marriage or deny the unbeliever his marital dues (1 Corinthians 7:2-5), but neither does he have the right to force an unbeliever to maintain the marriage (he should not if he could and he could not if he would). The continuation of the marriage depends wholly upon the will of the unbeliever and the separation must be his responsibility. It is not that the law of God pertaining to him does not apply to him, but that he does not and will not respect and adhere to that law. (Incidentally, would this not be reason enough, if properly understood, to cause a believer to refuse marriage to an unbeliever?) A brother or a sister Believers. is not under bondage - Is not bound (KIV). This does not refer to the bondage of marriage per se but the bondage or obligation to maintain the marriage, as imposed in 1 Corinthians 7:10-14. All married people have a divine obligation to maintain their marriage. They are always to render sexual dues to their mate (1 Corinthians 7:2-3); their body is not their own (1 Corinthians 7:4); all separation must be by mutual con­ sent and for a limited duration (1 Corinthians 7:5); the Lord personally commanded that the bond be not broken (1 Corinthians 7:10); if any did depart (contrary to the will of God), then they were to either be reconciled or remain unmarried (1 Corinthians 7:11); the believer was not to depart from the unbeliever (1 Corinthians 7:12-14). All this shows that Paul had the obligation to maintain the marriage in mind. And when the unbeliever departs from the believer, the believer is released from that obligation, that bondage. Whether a believer in such cases is free to remarry is neither affirmed nor denied in this passage. That is not its design. And that must be learned elsewhere. But in view of what Jesus said in Matthew 19:9, I think we are forced to the conclusion that he would not be except when fornication is committed on the part of the unbeliever. This view, unlike many others that are advanced, offers absolute harmony between Jesus and Paul, and one who believes in the in­ spiration of every Scripture has no choice but to harmonize the two. If there is lack of harmony, it is in our theories and explanations, not in what Jesus and Paul said. Thus I reject the concept that Paul permitted a second cause (the so-called Pauline privilege), desertion, for divorce and remarriage. Jesus per­ mitted only one (Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9). If Paul allowed another, he allowed more than Christ Himself. Thus I believe that any interpretation of this v. that permits a second cause for divorce and remarriage is a misinterpretation. in such cases: In such circumstances (NIV). The type of situation Paul had just described, where the believer departs from the unbeliever. This necessarily implies that in other situations (such as described in 1 Corinthians 7:2-14) believers would be in bondage they would be under obligation to maintain the marriage. But God hath called us to peace. To live and let live in peace; not to be the cause of useless turmoil.

Verse 13

1Co 7:13

1 Corinthians 7:13

And the woman that hath an unbelieving husband, and he is content to dwell with her, let her not leave her husband.—The same law applies to husband and wife alike; but it seems to me if it had been anticipated that believers would marry unbelievers such provisions would not have been made for separation when one becomes a believer after marriage.

Verse 14

1Co 7:14

1 Corinthians 7:14

For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in the brother: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.—What is meant by the unbelieving being sanctified by the believing companion has been much discussed. Macknight says: “When infidels are married to Christians, if they have a strong affection for their Christian spouses, they are thereby sanctified to them, they are fitted to continue married to them; because their affection to the Christian party will in­sure to that party the faithful performance of every duty; and that if the marriages of infidels and Christians were to be dis­solved, they would cast away their children as unclean; that is, losing their affection for them, they would expose them after the barbarous custom of the Greeks, or at least neglect their education. But that by continuing their marriages, their children are holy; they are preserved as sacred pledges of their mutual love, and educated with care.” That is, if an un­believing husband or wife is regarded so unclean that you cannot live with him or her, you must for the same reason re­gard your unbelieving children as unclean, but now under the rule he lays down, they are holy. The unbeliever is held as so sanctified by being one flesh with the believer, the relation is to be borne by the believer. Both husband and wife in the marriage relationship are sanctified or made sacred to each other. So when the unbeliever is willing, the marriage is to be held sacred. [It means that the marriage relation is sancti­fied so that there is no need of divorce. If either husband or wife is a believer and the other agrees to remain, the marriage is holy and need not be set asunder. If it is otherwise, their children are illegitimate. If the relations of the parents be holy, the child’s birth must be holy also (not illegitimate).]

Verse 15

1Co 7:15

1 Corinthians 7:15

Yet if the unbelieving departeth, let him depart:—[If the desire for separation is pressed by the unbeliever, making it intolerable for the Christian, he or she must be passive; and, if the unbeliever withdraws from such a union, let him not be hindered in so doing. The unbeliever is not constrained to keep up the union.]

the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases: There has been doubt as to the meaning of this expression. Does it mean that bond is not binding in such cases? The Roman Catholic Church and most of the Protestant churches allow remarriage in the case of willful desertion. The mean­ing most likely is that the believer can regard the unbeliever’s act as final, and need not seek to live with him, while yet in such cases remarriage is not approved. The Christian should be prepared to restore the marriage relation when possible, and this certainly is safe ground. If, however, the unbeliever should marry another person, he would by the act commit adultery and in that case the wife or husband would be at lib­erty to marry.

Just here I wish to emphasize the thought that there is so much looseness in the churches on the marriage relation, so little regard for Scripture teaching, it is well to guard the point that the violation of the marriage vow not only must exist, but it must be the cause and ground of separation—or the adultery of the unbeliever as in the case before us—to jus­tify remarriage of the separated party. Frequently the guilt of a husband is known, the crime is condoned by the wife, she lives with him knowing his guilt. Finally other causes lead to a separation; and then, when she wishes to marry again, the infidelity of the husband, which did not cause the separation, is made the excuse to justify the new marriage. Unless the separation took place on account of the lewdness of the com­panion, it cannot be ground for remarriage. Frequently a woman lives with a lewd husband who is one with a harlot. She becomes one with him who is one with a harlot—lives this life of doubtful virtue, and some other trouble grows up. She separates from him for this, and makes his lewdness merely the excuse for marrying again. This is not allowable. She is in adultery all the time. Not only must she have sepa­rated from the former husband because of his adultery, to jus­tify her, but the present husband must have been satisfied that was the cause of it when he married her, else his marriage was in intent and at heart adultery. The intention has every­thing to do with obedience to the command of God. It must not be an incidental happening to obey God when we go and do as we please, but a clear and distinct purpose to be governed by the law, to justify it. For a man and woman to reck­lessly rush ahead in marriage, determined to do it, law or no law, and after it is done to look around and see if they can find any ground to justify, does not relieve them from inten­tional guilt of marrying whether there be law or no law.

but God hath called us in peace.—The believer must make all the efforts in his power to live in peace with the unbe­liever, sacrifice everything save obedience to God. Jesus said: “If any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26).

Verse 16

1Co 7:16

1 Corinthians 7:16

For how knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband?—If the unbelieving husband so will, the Chris­tian wife must live with him because it is possible that she may be able to save him. “In like manner, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, even if any obey not the word, they may without the word be gained by the behav­ior of their wives; beholding your chaste behavior coupled with fear.” (1 Peter 3:1-2).

or how knowest thou, O husband, whether thou shalt save thy wife?—The unbelieving wife may often be won by the godly behavior of the husband. When a believer finds him or herself with an unbeliever, instead of seeking a separation, the believer should live in peace and seek by a godly behavior to win the unbelieving companion to Christ.

Verses 16-17

1Co 7:16-17

ACCEPTING ONE’S STATION IN LIFE

1 Corinthians 7:16-17

1 Corinthians 7:16 For what knowest thou, 0 wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, 0 man, whether thou shalt save thy wife? Conceivably the believer, when the unbeliever departed (1 Corinthians 7:15) could live in guilt and because he had lost his best chance to lead his mate to Christ. Paul had charged him to live in peace (1 Corinthians 7:15). Now he comforts him by pointing out that one did not know that he could have ever saved his mate. Hence he should accept his current status and serve God in it in peace and joy. Of course the possibility is there that he could have eventually saved his mate (1 Peter 3:1-6), but one simply cannot live his life on the basis of what might have been. Paul is not urging an effort to continue the marriage in the hope that the unbeliever may be changed, but rather that the believer accept the separation and make the most of life in view of the fact that he has departed.

1 Corinthians 7:17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. Nevertheless, each should retain the place in life the Lord has assigned to him and to which God has called him (NIV). Just because one becomes a Christian does not mean that his previous moral obligations or marital contract is no longer binding. Indeed, if there is any change at all, they are strengthened. Thus each must order his life and ser­ vice to God by that which the Lord has given him and make the most of the situations in which he finds himself. One can serve God, walk in the way of truth and right, regardless of his marital or social state, so long as the relation­ ship is not wrong within itself. And so ordain I in all churches. - This is the rule I lay down in all the churches (NIV). Paul taught all Christians, whether then or now, regardless of their station in life, to serve God the best they could with what they had where they were. This is emphasized by marriage in 1 Corinthians 7:15-16 and by circumcision and slavery in 1 Corinthians 7:18-24. This must not be interpreted to mean that Paul is instructing Christians to remain in a sinful relationship. If it is sinful, regardless of what that relationship may be, the Christian must sever himself from it. Nor does this mean that a Christian can never change or improve his status. Christianity encourages progress. Paul is simply urging them to overcome the situations of life in which they find themselves rather than being overcome by them.

Verse 17

1Co 7:17

1 Corinthians 7:17

Only, as the Lord hath distributed to each man, as God hath called each, so let him walk.—Whatever relation or sur­rounding one is in when he is called to the belief of the gospel, in that let him abide and seek to do the will of God, striving by his godly walk to win those to salvation with whom he comes in contact.

[The mighty effect of the gospel when first proclaimed is only slightly appreciated. The equality of men which it an­nounced; the precious and exceeding great promises which it contained; the short-lived character it ascribed to all earthly things; and the certainty of the coming of the Lord to judge the world in righteousness, which is predicted, produced a commotion in the minds of the people which was never expe­rienced either before or since. It is no surprise, therefore, that many were disposed to break away from their old rela­tionships. This was an evil that called for repression. Paul endeavored to convince his readers that their relation to Christ was comparable with any social relation or position not sinful in itself. Their conversion to Christ involved, there­fore, no necessity of breaking asunder their social ties. The gospel is not a revolutionary, disorganized element; but one which is designed to eliminate all evil, and exalt and purify that which is good.]

And so ordain I in all the churches.— [This principle was of universal application, and so he lays it down authoritatively for all the churches. He now proceeds to give specific in­stances to which this rule applies.]

Verse 18

1Co 7:18

1 Corinthians 7:18

Was any man called being circumcised? let him not be­come uncircumcised.—[Reference is here made to certain ef­forts which were attempted by those who were ashamed of having been circumcised.] If any man has been circumcised, let him not seek to become uncircumcised or to be regarded as a Gentile.

Hath any been called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.—If a Gentile is called, let him remain one, let him serve God in the relation in which he finds himself, and seek to reach and save whom he can in the relation.

Verses 18-24

1Co 7:18-24

ABIDE IN YOUR CALLING

1 Corinthians 7:18-24

1 Corinthians 7:18 Is any man called being circumcised? Was a man circumcised at the time he was called? (Moffett). Had he been circumcised at the time he obeyed the gospel or became a Christian. This would be the condition of most Jews and proselytes because the law had made it a divine requirement for them (Leviticus 12:3; Exodus 12:48). let him not become uncircumcised. Don’t try to get rid of your circumcision (Beck). He should not try to change his condition either by a surgical process or by trying to cover up the fact of it, as some Jews were accustomed to do when they were in danger or when it became a source of embarrassment to them (1 Maccabees 1:15, which is an uninspired source but supports the point here made). Is any called in uncircumcision? ~ Were you uncircumcised when you were called? (Beck). The opposite of the previous statement, as would have characterized Gentiles. Should they, now that they are Christians, be circumcised? The answer: let him not be circumcised. ~ Under the gospel system circumcision has no significance or merit whatsoever (1 Corinthians 7:19) and as a religious rite it is positively forbidden (Galatians 5:3-4). Of course if one for health reasons wishes to change his state of circumcision, he may do so without the violation of any Christian principles, so long as it is not done as a religious service. The point here is that one need not change his station in life either to become a Christian or to continue his Christian life (1 Corinthians 7:16-17).

1 Corinthians 7:19 --Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing--Being circumcised or not being circumcised has no value (Williams). Neither has any merit in the Christian system ~ neither will influence the favor of God (Galatians 5:6; Galatians 6:15). but the keeping of the commandments of God.-- Submitting to the revealed will of God in all things. The contrast is between circumcision and uncircumcision being nothing and the keeping of the commands of God being everything. Under the law, circumcision was a command (Exodus 12:48; Leviticus 12:3) and to please Him, one had to submit to it, but not so under the NT system. One must now keep the commands of God, but circumcision of the flesh is no longer commanded. The law of which it was a part is done away (2 Corinthians 3:3-16). Circumcision is now of the heart (Colossians 2:11-12), not fleshly. But this does not mean that salvation is attainable without obedience. Rather the contrary is true. Paul’s system of salvation by faith (Romans 3:22; Romans 5:1) includes obedience to all God requires in His word - obedience as the overt expression of faith (Romans 1:5; Romans 16:26). Without the overt expression (called "works" by James, James 2:24, and "faith working through love" by Paul, Galatians 5:6) faith is imperfect Gas. 2:22) and dead Gas. 2:20, 26). Thus from the Biblical perspective there is perfect harmony between Paul’s justification by faith and James’ justification by works. Paul’s word "faith" includes obedience; James’ word "works" means obedience. Both faith and obedience are essential in keeping the commandments of God.

1 Corinthians 7:20 Let every man abide--Remain or continue. in the same calling wherein he was called. - See note on v. 17, where the same principle is taught. One need not change his marital status, his circumcision or uncircumcision, or his state of slavery in order to become a Christian or to live the Christian life. Such things do not make one a Christian ... nor prevent him from being one. This passage presupposes that the condition, situation, or relation· ship in which one is called is an honorable one, not sinful in and of itself. No one can follow Christ and remain in a sinful situation. Thus any condition, situation, or relationship one is in that is wrong must be abandoned when the call comes to follow Jesus. One would do inexcusable violence to the whole Bible and to the character of God Himself were he to argue that if one is called operating a gambling house, a drinking bar, a drug ring, publishing pornography, or living in an unholy sexual union that he mayor should remain in such. Nothing could be farther from the thought of Paul. One must repent of or tum away from all sin when he accepts the gospel call (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30).

1 Corinthians 7:21 Art thou called being a servant? Were you called while a slave? (NASV). That is, did the gospel call (2 Thessalonians 2:14) come to you when you were in the bondage of slavery? It had to many, both at Corinth and elsewhere. While the institution of slavery is obviously a grave social evil, to be a slave did not prevent one from being a Christian. And being a Christian did not mean that one was duty-bound to rebel against his bondage. The Roman Empire was, on the whole, a cruel and wicked government, but this did not mean that one would have to renounce his citizenship when he became a Christian. So it was with slavery. care not for it: - Don’t let it trouble you (NIV). A slave could be an acceptable servant of Christ (Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:22-24; Titus 2:9-10). but if--If the opportunity comes for you to obtain your freedom in a Christian way. use it rather. Avail yourself of the opportunity (RSV). Some argue that this means that they should remain in slavery as a preferred condition, even if freedom was offered. And while it is conceded that this is a possible interpretation, I do not believe it is a likely one. It would be as sensible to argue that if one is called as a prisoner he should remain in prison, even though a pardon might be obtained; that if one is called in poverty he should remain poor, even though he might legitimately become wealthy by inheritance or industry; that if one is called in illiteracy he should remain illiterate rather than trying to improve his education. One may serve God in slavery, in prison, in illiteracy, or in poverty but I believe it is contrary to the fundamental principles of Christianity to say that one should remain in either when the opportunity for self-improvement presents itself. Thus I believe the RSV has correctly rendered Paul’s thought here. This being so, it shows the design of vv. 17, 20 is to instruct one to make the most of his condition, situation, or relationship, not to lock him into it. A Christian is to be content with his lot in life (Philippians 4:11; 1 Timothy 6:8; Hebrews 13:5), but this does not mean that he can­ not or should not work to improve it. If one is called while he is a slave, let him be content to serve God as a slave, but even in that contentment he is at liberty to work toward his freedom. Paul’s point is that whether one is a slave or free, he is to make the best use of his call to follow Christ that his condition, situa­ tion, or relationship will permit.

1 Corinthians 7:22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, --The slave who becomes a Christian - who is called into union with the Lord and is thereby made a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). is the Lord’s freeman:--The Lord’s freedman. He is free in the Lord (Romans 8:2; Galatians 5:1), freed by truth John 8:32) from sin (Romans 6:6-7; Romans 6:14; Romans 6:16-18) to righteousness (Romans 6:22).

Stone walls do not a prison make

Nor iron bars a cage;

Winds innocent and quiet take

That for an hermitage;

If I have freedom in my love,

And in my soul am free;

Angels alone, that soar above,

Enjoy such liberty.

--Richard Lovelace

likewise also he that is called, being free, - In the same manner, he who was free (not a slave) when he was called. is Christ’s servant. - He is now a slave of Christ (Romans 6:16-18). The point here is that the slave becomes free in one sense and the free becomes a slave in another. The slave does not become free in the sense that he is no longer in bondage to his master (although he is free to work toward this freedom, v. 21), and the free does not become a slave to men (ct. v. 23). In Christ one is both free and in bondage. He has the true freedom (John 8:36) freedom from the law; freedom from sin and death; freedom to be and do right; freedom to serve God acceptably. On the other hand, when the free enters into Christ he is in bondage because he surrenders his will to the will of his new Master, Jesus Christ. He dies to self so that he can live for God (Galatians 2:20). His is the bondage that makes him free in the same sense as the slave in Christ. In Christ there is no bond and free (Galatians 3:26-28) the freedom of the slave and the slavery of the free are one and the same.

1 Corinthians 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; Repeated from 6:20. Both slave and free have been purchased (redeemed from sin and death) with the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 1:18-19). be not ye the servants of men. Do not become slaves of men (NASV). Rather be servants of God. This does not have reference to slavery per se, but to the Christian’s real or ultimate Owner and Master. Some were and would continue to be slaves. This was not their choice alone (ct. Philemon.). But as Christians, they were free in Christ, and all service was to be rendered unto Him. A slave was serving Christ when he served his master because the service he was rendering was in obedience to the Lord’s instructions (Ephesians 6:5-8). Christ must be regarded as the Christian’s only Master. And, whether bond or free, he is not to be in spiritual bondage or subjection to any man (as would be the case if they followed party leaders, 1 Corinthians 1:11-13; 1 Corinthians 3:3-4).

1 Corinthians 7:24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide--See notes on 1 Corinthians 7:17; 1 Corinthians 7:20. with God. -Whether married or single, whether circumcised or uncircumcised, whether slave or let each one who is called serve God to his full potential that is, serve God the best he can where he is with what he has. One’s station in life does not exempt or exclude him from acceptable service.

Verse 19

1Co 7:19

1 Corinthians 7:19

Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing;—[They have no influence either favorable or unfavorable on our relation to God. No man is either the better or worse for being either circumcised or uncircumcised. This, of course, was said with reference to the standing before God in Christ Jesus. Before his coming it could not have been said without contravening the express command of God. (Genesis 17:9-14; Leviticus 12:3).] Being a Jew does not commend a man to God neither does it condemn him. The same is true of the Gentile. Circumcision as a family mark is not condemned; but as an act of service to God, it has no weight. The dispensation of which circumcision was the seal was contrary to the people of Israel, “and he [Christ] hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-15).

but the keeping of the commandments of God.—[The great question concerning which the Christian should be solicitous above everything else is as to whether he brings his heart and life into conformity to the will of God as revealed through Jesus Christ. “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love.” (Galatians 5:6). “Faith working through love” and “keeping the commandments of God” are the same thing. They express the idea of devotion of heart and life under dif­ferent aspects.]

Verse 20

1Co 7:20

1 Corinthians 7:20

Let each man abide in that calling wherein he was called.—He enlarges the thought by commanding every one to remain in the calling or in the relationship in which he was when he was called. Coming to Christ makes him faithful in the calling. [This is not intended to prohibit a man’s en­deavor to better his condition; but that there are certain con­ditions of life that to the Christian call there is a special form. Such as the great distinctions—national, social, and natural—- on the maintenance of which in any particular age or country the preservation of the principles of liberty and order and their legitimate development in human history mainly depend. Paul says: “There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28). This enumeration sets before us the three great fundamental conceptions that at once divide and unite the race—that of Jew and Greek, or the national distinction; that of slave and free, or the social distinction; and that of male and female, or the physical dis­tinction. No one should desire to change the status of life on becoming a Christian. Paul was endeavoring to convince his readers that their relation to Christ was compatible with any of the conditions of life enumerated. The gospel is just as well suited to people in one condition as another, and its blessings can be enjoyed in all their fullness equally in any condition of life. They were to continue to be Christians of the kind which God’s call made them. If they were circumcised—and so God’s call into Christ made them circumcised Christians— continue so. They were to do nothing which would seem to imply that some other change in addition to their becoming obedient to the gospel was necessary to complete their admis­sion into the fullness of the blessings in Christ.]

Verse 21

1Co 7:21

1 Corinthians 7:21

Wast thou called being a bondservant? care not for it: Bond servants that are called owe their service to their earthly masters. In serving them they cannot devote their whole time and means to the service of God that they would were they free. [But the fact of their being in slavery did not affect the reality or completeness of their relation to Christ, and their anxiety to escape from bondage was needless.]

nay, even if thou canst become free, use it rather.—Some expositors claim that this teaches that if a slave could obtain his liberty he was to avail himself of the opportunity to do so. But such an interpretation is at variance with the whole drift of the argument, which is, that he is not to seek such a change. What Paul does say is that if the Christian slave could be free, he should prefer his condition as a converted slave. Slavery, as well as other positions of life, can be used to the glory of God. This interpretation is in perfect har­mony, not only with the rest of the passage, but with all Paul’s teaching and his universal practice on the subject. [One point which should certainly be well pondered in considering this question is, if one word from Christian teaching could have been quoted at Rome as tending to excite the slaves to revolt, it would have set the Roman Government in direct and active hostility to the faith in Christ. Nor would the danger of preaching the abolition of slavery be confined to that arising from external violence on the part of the Roman Government; but it would have been pregnant with danger to the purity of the church itself. For it is altogether probable that many would have been led to join a communion which would have aided them in securing their social freedom. In these considerations we find ample reasons for the position of non-interference which Paul maintains in regard to slavery. Under a particular and exceptional round of circumstances, the Holy Spirit directed Paul not to interfere with it, but to teach fearlessly those imperishable principles which led in after ages to its extinction. He left slavery, therefore, unas­sailed, as he did civil relations in general, not asking, in his letter to Philemon, that Onesimus should be set free; but in­troduced the idea of love, unity, and equality. (1 Corinthians 13:13; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 6:8; Colossians 4:1; Philemon 1:16).]

Verse 22

1Co 7:22

1 Corinthians 7:22

For he that was called in the Lord being a bondservant, is the Lords freedman:—God does not require so much from him, so he is the Lord’s freedman. [The Lord’s freedman was one set free from service to sin (Romans 6:22) by Christ. These words simply mean that the slave who hears and be­comes obedient to “the faith,” and is thus brought into union with Christ as his Master, is thereby made free (John 8:32; John 8:36) from every kind of bondage; and made free by Christ. So complete is this freedom that it cannot be destroyed or weak­ened even in civil bondage. He is even free while serving his earthly master to earn the highest possible reward; for the apostle teaches that if slaves do their duty to their earthly masters as to Christ they will receive the reward of the inheri­tance, for they “serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:24).]

likewise he that was called being free, is Christs bondservant.—He is under obligations to devote more of his time and means to the service of God, so is God’s slave. [The distinc­tion between master and slave is obliterated. To be the Lord’s freedman and the Lord’s bond servant are the same thing. The Lord’s freedman is the one whom the Lord has redeemed from Satan and made his own; and the Lord’s bond servant is also one whom “he purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28). So that master and slave stand on the same level before Christ.]

Verse 23

1Co 7:23

1 Corinthians 7:23

Ye were bought with a price; become not bondservants of men.—Inasmuch as Christ had bought them with his blood, they were his bond servants. Now they were to serve Christ in continuing in submission to their earthly masters with the fidelity with which they served God and as service rendered to God. Paul gives the principle on which the slave was to serve: “Servants, be obedient unto them that according to the flesh are your masters, with fear and trembling, in sin­gleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not in the way of eye- service, as men-pleasers; but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as unto the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that whatsoever good things each one doeth, the same shall he receive again from the Lord, whether he be bond or free.” (Ephesians 6:5-8). The servant is to do service to the earthly master as to the Lord, and God will recompense him for the service done, as though rendered unto him.

Verse 24

1Co 7:24

1 Corinthians 7:24

Brethren, let each man, wherein he was called, therein abide with God.—Here is a summary and reiteration of the principles underlying the instruction contained in this par­graph. Let the bond servant who has become obedient to the faith abide, as regards his social state, as he was. His being a slave came to him without his choice and is powerless to de­stroy or lessen his Christian liberty or hinder his service to Christ, and his principle only justifies the exhortation here given.

Verse 25

1Co 7:25

1 Corinthians 7:25

Now concerning virginsPaul here introduces a differ­ent, but kindred, subject to that which he has been discussing. He had been discussing the relation of husband and wife. He now turns to that of those not yet given in marriage.

I have no commandment of the Lord: but I give my judg­ment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be trust­worthy.—[Paul had no specific word from Jesus on the sub­ject of virgins. They call for special treatment, but he had the command of Jesus concerning divorce to guide him. So he gives no command, but only a judgment, a deliberately formed decision from knowledge (2 Corinthians 8:10), not a mere passing fancy. The language, so far from being a disclaimer of inspiration, is an express claim to help from the Lord in forming this duly considered judgment.] From his familiarity with the teaching of the Lord he gives his judgment as one who has obtained mercy of the Lord to be trustworthy.

Verses 25-28

1Co 7:25-28

ADVICE TO THE UNMARRIED

1 Corinthians 7:25-28

1 Corinthians 7:25 Now concerning virgins-- Young unmarried women who had kept themselves sexually pure. From the way the subject is introduced it is evident that the Corinthians had asked him some question about virgins (d. v. 1), to which he is now to reply. I have no commandment of the Lord: - That is, the Lord did not address that subject personally while He was in the flesh (see notes on 1 Corinthians 7:6; 1 Corinthians 7:10-12). The contrast here is not between a commandment of the Lord and Paul’s personal opinion, but between that which the Lord Himself had spoken and that which Paul was delivering under the inspiration of the Spirit (John 16:13). yet I give my judgment, - His decision arrived from some source other than the personal command of the Lord. I, along with all who believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of all Scripture, believe that this means an inspired judgment (1 Corinthians 7:40; 1 Corinthians 14:37) or Spirit-directed advice (2 Corinthians 8:8-10), not merely his opinion. The Scriptures do not reflect the will of men, but the will of God (2 Peter 1:19-21). as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. As one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy (NASV). By God’s mercy he had received the measure of the Spirit that enabled him to faithfully deliver to them the will of the Lord on all matters pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4), even though Christ had not personally and specifically spoken on the subject. He had proven trustworthy as God’s messenger.

1 Corinthians 7:26 I suppose - That is, he would give his rule or judgment (v. 25). therefore that this is good for the present distress, What is good for the present distress? The best answer seems to be that which is stated in v. 27 (as it was also in vv. 17, 20, and 24), namely, that a man (person) remain in the marital state in which he was called. While it is too much to expect to be able to ascertain at this late date precisely what Paul had in view by the present distress, it was something that would add difficulty to one with family ties, as is the case in war, famine, natural disasters, persecution, or other afflictions that at times trouble a whole nation or community of people (1 Corinthians 7:18-31). The word signifies some adverse circumstances confronting the Corinthians (Luke 21:23). Jesus said, of the destruction of Jerusalem, "Woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days" (Matthew 24:19). It would be a time of distress for all and that distress would be more severe on a pregnant woman and one with a small child. Paul may have had some similar event in mind here. I say, that it is good for a man so to be. - That it is good for a man to be as he is (ASV). It is good for a man (meaning a person, whether vir­ gin, unmarried men, or the married, both men and women) to remain in his present state. The NIV renders the whole v.: "Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are."

1 Corinthians 7:27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed.--Are you married? Do not seek a divorce (NIV). If you are already married, the present distress (v. 26) is no reason for you to put away your mate. Hardships do not cancel contracts, especially the marriage contract. Art thou loosed from a wife? If you are not married. The context favors this being nothing more than unmarried men, in contrast with virgins (young unmarried women), with no reference to a previous marital bond. But if it does have reference to a previous marriage, then it must mean one whose mate is dead (Romans 7:1-4) or one who has been Scripturally divorced (Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9) since v. 28 shows that he has a right to marry (or remarry as the case may be). Only those who have never been married, those whose mates are dead, or those who have been Scripturally divorced have a right to marry, and anyone who marries without a Scriptural right must do so in sin. But here is one who has a right to marry without sin. The conclusion is inevitable: here is one who has never been married, one whose mate is dead, or one who has been Scripturally divorced. seek not a wife. Do not seek marriage (RSV). If you are free from marital ties (whether by being single, by death, or by a Scriptural divorce) then under the prevailing conditions do not seek marriage. Paul’s point here seems to be the same as in vv. 17,20,24, namely, let both the married and the unmarried re­ main as they are.

1 Corinthians 7:28 But and if thou marry, But if you should marry (NASV). Those only who have a Scriptural right to marry (see v. 27), the unmarried, one whose mate is dead, and the Scripturally divorced. thou hast not sinned; They have violated no divine law. Paul is not giving a command not to marry that must be obeyed in order to please God but rather an inspired judgment of what would be good in the "present distress" (v. 26). Marriage is a choice God has left to each individual. However, if one cannot contain or keep himself pure, he should marry (v. 9), even if it means more trouble in this life. and if a virgin What is true of all others who have a right to marry is also true of virgins. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in: Greater afflictions and difficulties in the crisis which faced them (see note on v. 26). but I spare you. And I am trying to spare you this (Williams). His concern was to make their burden as light as possible.

Verse 26

1Co 7:26

1 Corinthians 7:26

I think therefore that this is good by reason of the dis­tress that is upon us, namely, that it is good for a man to be as he is.—He says again, on account of the present distress, that it is good for every man to remain as he is, whether mar­ried or unmarried. (See note on verse 1).

Verse 27

1Co 7:27

1 Corinthians 7:27

Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.—Neither the mar­ried nor the unmarried are to seek for a change. [This is an explanation and reassertion of “to be as he is” in the preced­ing verse. He dissuades from the spirit of change in consider­ation of the distress that was pending.]

Verse 28

1Co 7:28

1 Corinthians 7:28

But shouldest thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned.—But if he cannot restrain himself and he marries, he does not sin. And if a virgin mar­ries, she does not sin. But under persecutions, such will have trouble in the flesh. Childbearing, family duties, and obliga­tions will increase the troubles that will come upon them.

Yet such shall have tribulation in the flesh: and I would spare you.—He would save them from these added troubles and afflictions, so he gives this advice as prudential, not as a command from God. The following or not following the ad­vice does not involve disobedience to God, or sin; but he would spare them added troubles brought on by marriage.

Verses 29-30

1Co 7:29-30

1 Corinthians 7:29-30

But this I say, brethren, the time is shortened, that henceforth both those that have wives may be as though they had none; and those that weep, as though they wept not; and those that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and those that buy, as though they possessed not;—In this Paul breaks off into one of his characteristic digressions, in which he shows that time here on earth was so short to them when they would leave the world, that what they are while here matters but lit­tle. [Paul here means that the present epoch will embrace a greater or less number of years, and its character is its being contained between precise limits—drawn together into brief compass which does not admit of its being extended indefi­nitely. These limits are, on the one side, Christ’s coming at the end of the Jewish dispensation (Acts 2:17; Hebrews 9:26) and, on the other, his coming again, which may be expected at any hour—the time is limited as to what remains (Matthew 24:42-44; Matthew 25:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3; 2 Peter 3:8-13).]

Verses 29-31

1Co 7:29-31

USING ONE’S STATION WISELY

1 Corinthians 7:29-31

1 Corinthians 7:29 But this I say, brethren, - I tell you this, brothers (NIV). He turns from addressing special groups, such as virgins, to give the following instructions to the whole church. the time is short: - The time has been cut short (Williams) or shortened. This seems to have reference to a period of time bounded on both ends, that is, the ends have been compressed closer together. But what period of time? There are three possibilities: (1) the time of the present distress (v. 26); (2) the time before death would overtake them; (3) the time between then and the second coming of Christ. Regardless of which possibility one might accept, the time is short and Paul’s point is to urge Christians to make the most of it in God’s service. There was no time to waste - the ends had been compressed together. Thus they were to make haste to redeem it (Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5). Many accept the third possibility and so interpret it to mean that Paul believes (and thus taught) that Christ would be coming within a short time. But this interpretation cannot be correct because the Bible everywhere teaches that no one knows the time of His coming (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32). In fact, the Bible teaches that He will come as a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10). Just as a thief does not give signs of his coming, the Bible gives no signs, hidden or otherwise, of the second advent. All the NT writers taught the fact of His coming (e.g., 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18), but the time was not revealed to any of them. This simply means that the Bible does not reveal the time of Christ’s coming. None of them taught that it would be in their lifetime. Had they done so, they would have been wrong; had they been wrong, they could not have been inspired; if they were not inspired, the NT is a human book; if the NT is a human book, we are all lost without hope. The third possibility must therefore be rejected. The second has nothing in the context to support it and to say that Paul was urging them to live more devotedly because God had cut their lives short by planning for them an early death does not com­ mend it to our minds, and I see not how it would have done so to theirs. This leaves only the first possibility, which I believe is the correct one. Either he is pointing to the shortness of the time before the distress begins or else to the shortened time before it ends. And since v. 26 implies that the distress was presently upon them, I would think he is pointing to its end. But regardless of whether the beginning or the end is in view, the distress would not last forever and they should endure its hardships with hope. That is, they should make the most of the time in God’s service. it remaineth, - So that from now on (NASV). That is, what time remains should be used to its fullest advantage. that both they that have wives - Those who are married. be as though they had none; - Those who have wives should live as if they had none (NIV). This does not mean that they were to neglect their marital duties (1 Corinthians 7:3-11), but rather to encourage them to live as devotedly to God as if they were single (1 Corinthians 7:33-35) and were not confronted with the extra hardships the marital state would impose upon them at that time.

1 Corinthians 7:30-31 And they that weep, Those who mourn (NPl). They mourn because they live under the burden of the persecution or whatever the "present distress" of v. 26 might have been (Matthew 5:10-12) or the increased difficulties because of their station in life (Matthew 5:4). as though they wept not; ­ That is, they were to live as though they were not under an increased burden. and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; - The opposite of those who mourn. They do not have the increased difficulties, but a Christian’s devotion to Christ should remain the same whether he mourns or rejoices. and they that buy, - Those who have been blessed with worldly goods. as though they possessed not; As though they did not own a thing (Williams).

1 Corinthians 7:31 And they that use this world, - The present order of things, whether they be concrete (the material things) Or abstract (ideas). God made all things and all things are properly used when used for the purpose for which He made them. as not abusing it: - Things are abused (not’used to their fullest) when they are used for something other than their creative purpose. It is difficult to determine the precise thought here, but in view of the concluding statement of this verse, the BV’s rendering commends itself: "And those who make use of the world as if they had no use for it." for the fashion - The form or outward order. of this world passeth away. - As in a stage play where there is a rapid shift from one scene to another, everything of a temporal nature is in constant change. The curtain will soon drop on all the current orders or forms of this world. As I see it, the point in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 is that one should not be overly affected in his service to God by the things of this life: for they are all swiftly passing. Rather everything should be used wisely to God’s glory and man’s salvation (Colossians 3:12).

Verse 31

1Co 7:31

1 Corinthians 7:31

and those that use the world, as not using it to the full: All things mentioned in this series are right things; and the warning is against eagerly using up all opportunities of gain or pleasure as if they were the end of life. We are not to try to get all we can out of externals. The man who remembers that he is only a sojourner in the world is likely to remember also that worldly possessions are not everything, and that worldly surroundings cannot be made permanent.

for the fashion of this world passeth away.— [John says: “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof.” (1 John 2:17). The fact that their present condition was not to last long, and their participation in its joys and sorrows was to be so short-lived, is the reason which the apostle urges why they should not be wedded to earthly things.] It is probable that raging persecution threatened to burst upon them with such fury as to add force to this exhortation.

Verse 32

1Co 7:32

1 Corinthians 7:32

But I would have you to be free from cares.—When per­secutions came upon them, he would like to have them with­out the additional cares which marriage would impose upon them. [It must be borne in mind that this advice was given solely to guide those under the distress that was then upon them (verse 26), and not to be applied in normal times.]

He that is unmarried is careful for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord:—[The unmarried man, having no family to provide for and to protect in times of distress and persecution, is less encumbered with worldly cares than the married man who was compelled to take care of his wife and dependent children; and might be thus kept back from that unswerving courage which in those dark days full loyalty to Christ demanded.]

Verses 32-35

1Co 7:32-35

DIVIDED VS. UNDIVIDED CONCERN

1 Corinthians 7:32-35

1 Corinthians 7:32 But I would have you without carefulness. - But I want you to be free from concern (NASV). That is, free from the added anxieties of the marital state (which would be intensified by the "present distress" of v. 26). He that is unmarried - One who does not have the added responsibilities of a wife and family. careth for the things that belong to the Lord, - Is concerned about the Lord’s affairs (NIV). Things that pertain to the Lord in the salvation of human souls, His will, His work, and His cause. how he may please the Lord: - That is. have an undivided concern (v. 34, NASV) for the things of the Lord under the circumstances. I do not think that Paul is saying, as a general rule, the unmarried are more devoted to the Lord than the married. In my experience (and perhaps in Paul’s also, Aquila and Priscilla, Romans 16:3-4; Acts 18:24-26, and the fact that he himself instructed that elders must be the husband of one wife, 1 Timothy 3:2) the opposite seems to be the case. But he is saying that, in times of distress, the unmarried do not have as many encumbrances to be concerned about as the married. A married man must be concerned with the care and welfare of his wife and children (and that care is a thing of the Lord for him) as well as the church and its welfare. The unmarried do not have these additional responsibilities and anxieties. Hence, his concern is undivided. This section, 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, should be applied only in times of persecution and distress and not as a general rule for happier and more settled times.

1 Corinthians 7:33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, - But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world (NIV). The things of this world have no reference to sinful things or worldliness but are in contrast with the things of the Lord of v. 32. The things of the Lord are eternal things; the things of the world are temporal, such as providing for and protecting one’s family (things not wrong within themselves, but are in fact necessary because one cannot please God without doing his duty to his marital mate). how he may please his wife. - That is, in times of distress his concern is not undivided - he must consider both the Lord and his mate. In such times the unmarried have only one concern the things of the Lord pertaining to himself; the married have an additional concern the things which pertain to his family. And many of the things which pertain to the family (food, clothing, shelter, etc.) are temporal in nature. See note on v. 32.

1 Corinthians 7:34 There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. - The same difference exists between a wife (a married woman) and a yirgin (probably any unmarried woman, whether virgin, widow, or divorcee) that exists between a married and an unmarried man, namely, the concern of the wife must be divided (see ASV) while that of the unmarried can remain undivided. See note on vv. 32-33. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord. - She has an undivided concern. She is not burdened with the affairs of a family in time of distress. that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: She has a single concern and can be devoted to the Lord in all her services. See note on v. 32. but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. - See note on v. 33.

1 Corinthians 7:35 And this I speak for your own profit; I am saying this for your own good (NIV). That which he had said about the status of the unmarried in distinction with the married (1 Corinthians 7:25-34, but especially 1 Corinthians 7:32-34) was said for their best interest, to prevent them from having additional burdens in the time of distress (v. 28). As are the previous verses, this is addressed to unusual times, and instructions given to be applied in such times should not be generally or in­ discriminately applied in other times and circumstances. not that I may cast a snare upon you, - Not to throw a noose over you (BV). He had no desire to tie them up with a slip-knot so as to force them to forego marriage. They still had an unfettered choice, although it was Paul’s conclusion that under the circumstance it would be better for one to remain single (v. 40), providing he could contain (v. 9). but for that which is comely, - But to promote what is seemly (NASV) or that which is fitting under the circumstances. and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. - That you may be able to serve the Lord with an undivided concern and without the distraction of family obligations.

Verses 33-34

1Co 7:33-34

1 Corinthians 7:33-34

but he that is married is careful for the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and is divided. So also the woman that is unmarried and the virgin is careful for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married is careful for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.—Paul here states a truth that is applicable in a general way only to those who live continently and contentedly without marriage, free from the cares that grow with a family both of men and women. Generally unmarried men, and women too, with the sexual de­sires active, give less care, place their affections less on the Lord, than the married. Paul himself states this truth: “But younger widows refuse: for when they have waxed wanton against Christ, they desire to marry.” (1 Timothy 5:11). That his language here was only for the time of the distress that was then upon them is seen in this statement: “I desire there­fore that the younger widows marry, bear children, rule the household, give no occasion to the adversary for reviling: for already some are turned aside after Satan.” (1 Timothy 5:14-15). As a rule among men and women the married state is more promotive of virtue and devotion than that of the un­married.

Verse 35

1Co 7:35

1 Corinthians 7:35

And this I say for your own profit;—[The advice was given that they might avail themselves of all their advantages and privileges, and pursue such a course as would tend to ad­vance their personal piety and spiritual growth. Nothing here was ever designed to be of general application; it con­cerned the church at Corinth alone; or churches in similar cir­cumstances.]

not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is seemly, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without dis­traction.—He did not wish to lead them into temptation which they could not withstand, so become ensnared to sin; but he spoke it that they might do that which was for their well-being and what would leave them time to serve the Lord without the care and distractions which a family would im­pose upon them.

Verse 36

1Co 7:36

1 Corinthians 7:36

But if any manIn that age and country the father dis­posed of his daughters in marriage without consulting them, and his will was the law in the matter.

thinketh that he behaveth himself unseemly toward his vir­gin daughter,—If he thinks he treats her wrong in withhold­ing her from marriage, exposing her to a temptation to sin with her lover, or at least, bringing on her the imputation of it.

if she be past the flower of her age,—Past the usual age of marriage.

and if need so requireth, let him do what he will; he sinneth not; let them marry.—If, then, a man thinks he treats his vir­gin daughter wrong in withholding her from marriage, he must act according to her requirements. That is, if she cannot live satisfied in the unmarried state, let him give her in marriage, and he need not fear that in doing so he does wrong.

Verses 36-38

1Co 7:36-38

VIRGIN DAUGHTERS

1 Corinthians 7:36-38

1 Corinthians 7:36 But if any man - Now if a father (Williams). At Corinth, as in most ancient societies and perhaps in some modern ones, the father controlled the marriage of his daughters, either with or without their consent. Although some see difficulty in it, in my judgment, the fact that Paul is here addressing the father-daughter relationship can admit of little or no doubt. The alternatives to this either do not fit the context or else violate other Scriptures. think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, - Thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter (NASV). If the father is convinced that his behavior is disgraceful in failing to permit the marriage of his daughter (perhaps to protect her from the added burdens at that time of distress) and is doing her an injustice or subjecting her to dangerous sexual temptations, he should let her marry. The hardships of marriage could not outweigh the risk of immorality. if she pass the flower of her age, If she should be of full age (NASV) or if she has reached sexual maturity and her years of youth are passing. and need so require, - And if it must be so (NASV). If her need is such that she cannot contain (v. 9), such that it places her in danger of immorality, and she desires to marry. let him do what he will, he sinneth not: - He will not sin if he proceeds to do his duty by giving her in marriage and thereby fill her needs. let them marry. Let them (the plural is used here because it takes two to marry) form a union in purity: for it is better to marry than to burn with desire (v. 9). Thus neither the one who marries (v. 28) nor the one (father) who gives her in marriage does wrong.

1 Corinthians 7:37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, - He is firm in his determination to protect his daughter from the additional hardships that would be imposed upon her by marriage in that time of distress. He is thus thinking of her welfare rather than his own - he is more concerned about her than he is the added inconvenience and expense of keeping her in his own household. having no necessity, - under no constraint (NASV). His daughter, unlike the one in v. 36, is able to contain, having no desire or need to marry, and this leaves him free of any constraint to make his decision. In other words, his decision is not rendered because of needs that would force him to act contrary to his judgment. but hath power over his own will, - He is free to choose. The decision is not forced upon him by the sexual needs of his daughter, that is, he decides himself what is best for her and he can make the decision in keeping with his own judgment rather than being forced to it by the circumstances of her need or the danger of subjecting her to temptation. and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, He has made the decision to keep his daughter free from the marriage bond. doeth well. - Because he has acted proper toward his daughter, his decision is an ex­ cellent one and will prove advantageous under the circumstances.

1 Corinthians 7:38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; And so the man who gives his daughter in marriage does what is right (Williams). The father of v. 36 (see note there) makes an excellent decision in giving his daughter in marriage (the expression "giveth her in marriage" refers to the ac­ tion of a father, not to that of a bridegroom) because her need outweighs the burden of taking on marital responsibility. but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better. - The father of v. 37 (see note there) makes a more excellent decision because she has no pressing need to marry and he can therefore prevent her from having to bear the additional burdens of the time.

Verse 37

1Co 7:37

1 Corinthians 7:37

But he that standeth steadfast in his heart,—Whose judg­ment is settled and firm, being fully persuaded of the inexpe­diency of his daughter’s marrying.

having no necessity,—Being controlled by no external ne­cessity; nothing, in other words, rendering it necessary for him to act contrary to his own judgment.

but hath power as touching his own will,—Is able to act as he deems best.

and hath determined this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter,—Has fully made up his mind to keep his daughter in those perilous times from marriage and under his own control.

shall do well.—In either of these cases he does right.

Verse 38

1Co 7:38

1 Corinthians 7:38

So then both he that giveth his own virgin daughter in marriage doeth well;—He violates no law in so doing, and is not to be censured for it.

and he that giveth her not in marriage shall do better.—He more certainly under the trying circumstances considered her happiness by holding her from entering into the married state than he would by allowing her to enter into it. [And yet, when all is said, Paul leaves the whole problem of getting married an open question to be settled by each individual case.]

Verse 39

1Co 7:39

1 Corinthians 7:39

A wife is bound for so long time as her husband liveth;—He adds advice concerning widows marrying, probably in answer to a question that had been propounded to him.

but if the husband be dead, she is free to be married to whom she will;—[It is the teaching of the New Testament that marriage is a contract for life, between one man and one woman, indissoluble by the will of the parties or by human law; but that the death of either party leaves the survivor free to contract another marriage. (Romans 7:1-3). Such being the teaching of the Holy Spirit, no civil or ecclesiastical body can rightfully enact a different law. All efforts to change God’s law only render men and women worse.]

only in the Lord.—This prohibits the widow marrying one not a Christian. I know no reason why a widow should be more restricted as to whom she marry than a virgin. This restriction however, together with the general principles laid down regulating the association of Christians with unbeliev­ers, indicates that it was not contemplated that Christians should marry those not in the Lord. Under the law of Moses the man was prohibited marrying out of the family of Israel, save when the woman would identify herself with the chosen people. The reason given was, lest they should draw them into idolatry. Solomon violated the law, and, despite his wisdom and power, his wives drew him into idolatry. Influence is fre­quently more potent for evil than authority or power.

The law of Moses is an earthly type of the law of Christ. The inference would be that the children of God could not marry out of the family of God. “Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship have righteousness and iniq­uity? or what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement hath a tem­ple of God with idols? for we are a temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be to you a Father, and ye shall be to me sons and daugh­ters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). To be un­equally yoked would be to be so connected with the unbe­liever that the Christian would be controlled by the unbeliever.

I know of no relation in which this would be more so than in the marriage relation. The whole drift and tenor of the Scriptures, both of the Old Testament and the New, is that in the close and intimate relations of life the people of God should seek the companionship of servants of God, that they might help and encourage each other in the Christian life. When both are working together, man in his weakness often becomes discouraged; it is greatly worse when the nearest and dearest one pulls away from Christ and duty. Then, too, when people marry, they ought to consider the probability of rearing children. It is the duty of Christian parents to rear their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. How can one do this when the other sets the example of unbe­lief and disobedience to God? I conclude, therefore, that the spirit and teaching of the Bible is against Christians marrying those not members of the body of Christ, and yet there is no direct and specific prohibition of it, other than for widows.

Verses 39-40

1Co 7:39-40

THE REMARRIAGE OF WIDOWS

1 Corinthians 7:39-40

1 Corinthians 7:39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; The marital bond remains in effect as long as her husband lives and she is thus not free to marry again. Marriage is a lifelong contract. "By the law" is omitted by later translations on textual grounds, but it is found in Romans 7:1-4. but if her husband be dead, - If he dies that changes the whole situation. Death ends the marital bond. she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; Her marital obligations are as if they had never been, She is therefore free to form another union. And unlike the virgins (1 Corinthians 7:36-38), and probably unlike her first marriage, she could make her own choice as to whom she would marry. And because it is by her own choice, she is responsible for her actions. This means that in again she must not forget the fact that she is a Christian.. she is in union with Christ. This concept is important in considering properly the modifying phrase which follows. only in the Lord. -- Only in a Christian way (Williams). This usually means one who is in union with Christ (John 14:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17), one who is in covenant relationship with Him (Romans 8:1; Colossians 2:3-11), or one who has died to self and lives for Christ (Galatians 2:20). Hence, a Christian. The problem here is not with the meaning of the phrase itself but who or what it modifies. There are two possible views: (1) Some understand it to modify the man whom she is marrying that is, he must be a Christian. (2) Others understand it as a modifier of the verb "to be married," in which case it may mean that she must marry in a manner consistent with her relationship with Christ. In other words, she must marry as a Christian (she must not cease following Christ in order to marry). The first view seems to be the more natural one (it is the concept one ordinarily gets upon first reading the verse), but further consideration soon reveals the difficulty in practicing it universally. For example, on the mission field Christians are often so few and so far apart that any available Christian man suitable for a Christian widow might not be found for hundreds of miles (maybe not until another country or continent) and the chances of them meeting are remote indeed. Yet the widow, for purity’s sake, may have a pressing need to marry (v. 9). I knew of one such widow. Later she had married a non-Christian (who by her influence later became a strong Christian leader) she said, "There were no Christian men available and I decided that if marrying a non-Christian was wrong, I would rather be lost for marrying than for lusting." Of course apparent impracticalities do not change what the verse teaches, but they do weigh heavily against one interpretation if there is another that appears to be just as reasonable. And in this case, I believe the second view offers us, not just a reasonable alternative, but a more reasonable and harmonious one. The context is concerned with the responsibilities of marriage in distressful times, not with the mate with whom one might choose to share those times. It stands to reason then that Paul means that the widow (or any other Christian who must make the choice for himself) must marry as a Christian, recognizing that she is in union with Christ, that she belongs to the Lord, and that all her actions must reflect this fact. This does not deny that such actions might require her to marry only a Christian, but (if the second view is the correct one, and it seems to me that it is) the Lord has not bound that upon her as an unvariable law.

1 Corinthians 7:40 But she--The widow of v. 39. is happier--More blessed. if she so abide, --If she stays as she is (Beck) or remains after my judgment: - His judgment (see v. 25), as often expressed in this chapter, that under the circumstances faced by the Christians at that time (v. 26), it was better to be domestically unattached (1 Corinthians 7:32-34) than to have the additional responsibilities of a family. While this judgment was delivered by inspiration (1 Corinthians 14:37) and one would be better off to abide by it in times of distress, it was not bound on anyone as absolute law and in all probability was meant only to those who had the gift of God to contain sexual urges (cf 1 Timothy 5:11-14). To marry or to remain unfettered, for them, was not a choice between right and wrong but between what was better and what was best under the circumstances. and I think also that I have the Spirit of God. A mild expression of the fact that he spoke (or wrote) under the directions of the HS (2 Peter 1:20-21; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). What he has said is exceedingly higher than mere human opinion.

Verse 40

1Co 7:40

1 Corinthians 7:40

But she is happier if she abide as she is, after my judg­ment:—While Paul gives this permission to the widow, she will be happier according to his judgment, if she remains un­married. [This was said because she would have the same cares and troubles as those referred to in the preceding verses.]

and I think that I also have the Spirit of God.—-[Not that there was any doubt in Paul’s mind on this point. The word implies full persuasion that in the advice he had given he was speaking under the direction of the Holy Spirit.]

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/1-corinthians-7.html.
 
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