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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
1 Corinthians 7

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

1.] δέ, transitional, passing on to another subject.

καλὸν.…] not, morally good: for in 1 Corinthians 7:28 expressly not sin, but inexpediency, is the reason for not marrying: nor good in the sense ὑπερέχον, of as Jerome, adv. Jovin. i. 7, vol. ii. p. 246, ‘si bonum est mulierem non tangere, malum ergo est tangere:’ but expedient, generally: ‘more for a man’s best interests under present circumstances:’ Angl. ‘it is the best way,’ in the colloquial sense: so also throughout the chapter: see the word qualified 1 Corinthians 7:26, καλὸνδιὰ τὴν ἐνεστῶαν ἀνάγκην.

ἀνθρώπῳ] though of necessity by what follows, the man only is intended, yet ἀνθρώπῳ does not here or in reff. = ἀνδρί, but as Meyer remarks, regards the man not merely in his sexual but in his human capacity. Thus in its deeper reference, it would embrace the other sex also.

απτεσθαι] so in reff.; and in Latin tangere, attingere, virgo intacta. See examples in Wetst. This expression is obviously here used in the widest sense, without present regard to the difference between the lawful and unlawful use of the woman. The idea that the assertion applies to abstinence from intercourse in the already married (see again below), is altogether a mistake.


Verse 1-2

1, 2.] Concession of the expediency (where possible) of celibacy, but assertion of the practical necessity of marriage, as a remedy against fornication.


Verses 1-40

1–40.] REPLY TO THEIR ENQUIRIES RESPECTING MARRIAGE BY WHICH OCCASION IS GIVEN FOR VARIOUS COLLATERAL INSTRUCTIONS AND COMMANDS. In order to the right understanding of this chapter, it will be well to remember, that the enquiries in the letter of the Corinthians appear to have been made in disparagement of marriage, and to have brought into doubt whether it were not better to avoid it where uncontracted, and break it off where contracted, or this last at all events where one of the parties was an unbeliever. These questions he answers, 1 Corinthians 7:1-16; and puts on their true grounds, 1 Corinthians 7:17-24. They appear also to have asked respecting virgins, what was their duty and that of their parents, as to their contracting marriage. This he discusses in its various aspects of duty and Christian expediency, 1 Corinthians 7:25-38. Then he concludes with an answer and advice, respecting the liberty of a woman to marry after the death of her husband.

The whole is written under the strong impression (see on this, notes, Acts 2:20; Romans 13:11, and 2 Corinthians 5; and Prolegg. to Vol. III. ch. 5 § iv. 5–10) of the near approach of the end of this state of things (1 Corinthians 7:29-31), and as advising them under circumstances in which persecution, and family division for the Gospel’s sake, might at any time break up the relations of life. The precepts therefore and recommendations contained in the chapter are to be weighed, as those in ch. 8 al., with reference to change of circumstances; and the meaning of God’s Spirit in them with respect to the subsequent ages of the Church, to be sought by careful comparison and inference, not rashly assumed and misapplied. I may also premise, that in hardly any portion of the Epistles has the hand of correctors and interpolators of the text been busier, than here. The absence of all ascetic tendency from the Apostle’s advice, on the point where asceticism was busiest and most mischievous, was too strong a testimony against it, to be left in its original clearness. In consequence, the textual critic finds himself in this chapter sometimes much perplexed between different readings, and in danger of on the one hand adopting, on overwhelming manuscript authority, corrections of the early ascetics,—and on the other excluding, from a too cautious retention of the rec. text, the genuine but less strongly attested simplicity of the original.


Verse 2

2.] The former course is expedient—would avoid much trouble’ in the flesh:’ but as a general rule it may not be, seeing that for a more weighty reason the contrary course is to be recommended. But on account of [the] fornications (the many instances of fornication current. The plur. of an abstract noun implies repetition, or varieties of the occurrence: so Herod. vii. 158, ὑμῖν μεγάλαι ὠφελίαι τε κ. ἐπαυρέσεις γεγόνασι: iii. 40, ἐμοὶ δὲ αἱ σαὶ μεγάλαι εὐτυχίαι οὐκ ἀρέσκθυσι, see reff., and Kühner, Gramm. ii. 28 (§ 408, γ)) let each man possess her own wife, and let each woman possess his own husband. The ἐχέτω is (1) not concessive, but imperative; not ‘habere liceat,’ but ‘habeto.’ So the other expressions, γαμησάτωσαν, 1 Corinthians 7:9, μενέτω, 1 Corinthians 7:11, &c. (2) not here in the sense of ‘utatur, eigue commisceatur,’ as Estius, al., which does not come into consideration till the next verse. (3) not emphatic, let each retain, according to the mistaken idea mentioned on 1 Corinthians 7:1, that he is speaking to the married, who though they are not to cohabit are yet to remain together.

Had either of the two latter senses been meant, the sentence would rather have stood ἐχέτω ἕκ. τ. ἑαυτ. γυναῖκα, κ. ἐχέτω ἑκάστη τ. ἴδ. ἄνδρ.

With regard to the assertion of Rückert, that the Apostle here gives a very low estimate of marriage, as solely a remedy against fornication, the true answer is, that Paul does not either here, or in this chapter at all, give any estimate of marriage in the abstract. His estimate, when he does, is to be found Ephesians 5:25-32.


Verse 3

3. τὴν ὀφειλήν] ‘debitum tori’. The rec. was perhaps an euphemism (we have also the varieties, ὀφειλομένην τιμὴν, Chrysostom once: ὀφ. τιμὴν καὶ εὔνοιαν in the ms. 40) for the same thing. Meyer will not concede this, but thinks it arose from a mistaken interpretation of ὀφειλή as meaning merelybenevolentia:’ thinking that not εὔνοια, but φιλότης would be the word in the other case. But some of the later examples in Wetst. seem to bear out this meaning of εὔνοια.


Verse 3-4

3, 4.] The duty of cohabitation incumbent on the married. This point was in all probability raised in the letter of the Corinthians. The Apostle’s command is a legitimate following out of διὰ τὰς πορνείας above.


Verse 4

4.] The axiom is introduced without a γάρ, as frequently.

τοῦ ἰδίου οὐκ ἐξουσιάζει] ‘sui, cum potestatem non habet, elegans facit paradoxon.’ Bengal. The ground of this being another’s while they remain their own, is to be found in the oneness of body, in which the marriage state places them.


Verse 5

5.] ἀποστερεῖτε is applied by Meyer to τῆς ἐξουσίας,—by Billroth, al., to τῆς ὀφειλῆς; De Wette suggests τοῦ σώματος, but prefers, and rightly, leaving its reference indefinite, to be supplied in the reader’s mind.

εἰ μή τι, unless perchance (reff.).

ἄν] “The verb is sometimes omitted after this particle, but always so that it can be supplied from a foregoing clause. So σὲ δʼ ἄλλη γυνὴ κεκτήσεται, σώφρων μὲν οὐκ ἂν μᾶλλον, εὐτυχὴς δʼ ἴσως.” Hartung, Partikellehre, ii. 330.

ἐκ, according to: the mutual agreement being the ground, and the measure, of the act.

ἵνα σχ.] in order that ye may have undisturbed leisure for prayer. The pres. σχολάζητε of the rec. would refer to the general habit, and would thus make τῇ προς., ‘your ordinary prayers,’—being thus inconsistent with the direction given πρὸς καιρόν: the aorist expresses this temporary purpose, and shews that the prayer meant is not ordinary but extraordinary,—seasons of urgent supplication.

Both the alteration to the present and the addition of τῇ νηστείᾳ καί, shew how such passages as this have been tampered with by the ascetics: see also Mark 9:29.

ἦτε,—not συνέρχησθε as it has been amended (nor - εσθε as it has been reamended), because εἶναι ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό in this sense is the normal state of the married. For the expression see reff.

The subjunc. still depends on ἵνα—the aim of the temporary separation is not that you may keep apart, but for a certain end, and then that you may be united again.

ἵνα μὴ πειρ.] Purpose of the re-union stated, by that which might happen did it not take place. πειράζῃ now is present, not aor., as betokening the danger of a state of abstinence if continued.

ἀκρασία here, not that from ἄκρᾱτος (˘‾˘‾),—which signifies a bad mixture, as ἄκρ. ἀέρος, ‘insalubrity of the air:’ but that from ἀκρᾰτής (˘‾˘˘‾),—incontinence; see reff.

διὰ τ. ἀκρ. ὑμ., on account of your incontinence,—but hardly, as Meyer seems to think, with allusion to the proverbial fault of the Corinthians in this particular, which would be more definitely expressed, were it intended. The ὑμῶν is necessary to carry out the form of the sentence, corresponding to ὑμᾶς above.


Verse 6

6.] But this I say by way of allowance (for you), not by way of command.

τοῦτο refers, not to 1 Corinthians 7:2, as Beza, Grot., and De Wette, because the precept there given depends on a reason also given, διὰ τὰς πορνείας, from the nature of which reason it must be κατʼ ἐπιταγήν: nor to the whole since 1 Corinthians 7:2, as Billroth, Rückert, al.,—because the precept in 1 Corinthians 7:3 depends on the general truth in 1 Corinthians 7:4, and is also a command: nor to πρὸς καιρόν, as Theophyl.:—nor as the ascetics, Orig(14), Tert(15), Jerome, Estius (also Calvin), to ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ ἦτε, because both these are but subordinate members of the preceding sentence:—still less to what follows, as Rosenm., al.:—but, as the context (1 Corinthians 7:7) shews, to the whole recommendation given in 1 Corinthians 7:5. This recommendation all depended on the possibility of their being tempted by incontinence: he gives it not then as a command in all cases, but as an allowance for those to whom he was writing, whom he knew, and assumes, to be thus tempted. The meaning ‘by permission,’ E. V., is ambiguous, appearing as if it meant by permission of the Lord (to say it): that given by Hammond, al., κατὰ τὴν ἐμὴν γνώμην, is philologically inadmissible.


Verse 7

7.] I rather ( δέ) wish that all men were as I myself also am ( καί comparandi, so Xen. Anab. ii. l. 22, καὶ ἡμῖν ταὐτὰ δοκεῖ ἅπερ καὶ βασιλεῖ. See Hartung, Partikell. i. 126)—viz., ἐν ἐγκρατείᾳ, which Chrys. seems to have read in the text; see below on 1 Corinthians 7:8.

ἀλλὰ ἕκαστος … said in the most general way, as a milder expression of ‘all have not the gift of continence.’

οὕτως οὕτως] both are said generally, not one in the way in which I have it (of continence), another in the way of marrying (i.e. though he have not this, and be therefore better married, yet has some other), which should be ἐκείνως,—but, one thus, and another thus,—i.e. ‘one in one way, another in another.’


Verse 8

8. λέγε δέ] taking up the former λέγω, 1 Corinthians 7:6, and bringing this advice under the same category as 1 Corinthians 7:7, viz. his own wish that all were as himself. The stress is on λέγω, not on τοῖς ἀγ. κ. ταῖς χ., which would in that case be placed first, as τοῖς γεγαμηκόσιν below.

τοῖς ἀγάμοις, the unmarried, of both sexes: not as usually interpreted, widowers, or unmarried males alone: this is shewn by the contrasted term γεγαμηκόσιν, which embraces (see 1 Corinthians 7:10-11) both sexes.

καὶ ταῖς χήραις may be added as singling out widows especially;—or more probably, because τοῖς ἀγάμοις would naturally be taken as those who never were married, and thus widows would not be understood to be included.

καλόν, see on 1 Corinthians 7:1, it is good for them, i.e. ‘their best way.’

ὡς κἀγώ] i.e. ἄγαμος. This brings the Apostle’s own circumstances more clearly before us than 1 Corinthians 7:7, which might be misunderstood: and there can be little doubt from this, that he never was married. Grot. says, “ex h. l. non improbabiliter colligitur, Paulo fuisse uxorem, quod et Clemens Alex. putat, sed cum hæc scriberentur, mortuam.” But this rests on the mistaken interpretation of ἀγάμοις noticed above. The passage of Clem(16) Alex. (Strom. iii. [6.] 53, p. 535 P., alluded to in Euseb. iii. 30) is grounded on Paul’s having in a certain epistle addressed τὴν αὐτοῦ σύζυγον, ἣν οὐ περιεκόμιζε, διὰ τὸ τῆς ὑπηρεσίας εὐσταλές. But the words σύνζυγε γνήσιε, Philippians 4:3, certainly have no reference to a wife: see note there.


Verse 8-9

8, 9.] Advice to the unmarried, that it is best so to remain, but better to marry than be inflamed with lust.


Verse 9

9.] but if they are incontinentοὐκ must be joined not with εἰ, which would require μή, but with the verb. So reff. and Soph. Aj. 1131, εἰ τοὺς θανόντας οὐκ ἐᾷς θάπτειν παρών, ‘vetas.’ See other examples in Hartung, Partikellehre, ii. 122 f.

ἐγκρατεύω is said by Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 44, not to be found except in the LXX and N. T. But both Phrynichus and Thom. Mag. say ἀκρατεύεσθαι μηδαμῶς εἴπῃς, ἀλλὰ οὐκ ἐγκρατεύεσθαι. See in Wetst.

γαμησάτ.] Lobeck, in Phrynichus, p. 742, says, “post ἔγημα (ut ἔγηρα) ἐγάμησα invaluit quod non solum in N. T. libris, ut quidam putaverunt, sed etiam in ipsa Græcia reperitur, auctore, ut videtur, Menandro: ἐγάμησεν ἣν ἐβουλόμην ἐγώ, nihil impediente pedum modulatione quominus usitato uteretur aoristo.”

ποροῦσθαι] “melius nuberent quam urerentur, id est, quam occulta flamma concupiscentiæs in ipsa conscientia vastarentur.” Aug(17) de sancta Virginitate, 34, vol. vi. p. 415.


Verse 10

10. οὐκ ἐγώ, ἀλλὰ ὁ κύριος] Ordinarily, the Apostle ( ἐγώ) writes, commands, gives his advice, under conscious inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God. See 1 Corinthians 7:40. He claims expressly. ch. 1 Corinthians 14:37, that the things ἃ γράφω ὑμῖν should be recognized as κυρίου ( ἐντολή). But here he is about to give them a command resting, not merely on inspired apostolic authority, great and undoubted as that was, but on that of THE LORD HIMSELF. So that all supposed distinction between the Apostle’s own writing of himself and of the Lord, is quite irrelevant. He never wrote of himself, being a vessel of the Holy Ghost, who ever spoke by him to the church. The distinction between that which is imperative, and that which is optional, that which is more and that which is less weighty in his writings, is to be made by the cautious and believing Christian, from a wise appreciation of the subject-matter, and of the circumstances under which it was written. ALL is the outpouring of the Spirit, but not all for all time, nor all on the primary truths of the faith.

Not I, but the Lord, viz. in ref. Matt. See also Mark 10:12, where the woman’s part is brought out. That it occupies the principal place here, is perhaps because the Christian women at Corinth may have been the most ready to make the separation: or perhaps, because the woman, from her place in the matrimonial union, may be more properly said ἀπὸ ἀνδρὸς χωρισθῆναι than the man ἀπὸ γυναικὸς χωρισθῆναι.

χωρισθ., be separated, whether by formal divorce or otherwise; the καταλλαγήτω below, is like this, an absolutepassive; undefined whether by her own or her husband’s doing.


Verse 10-11

10, 11.] Prohibition of separation after marriage; or in case of separation, of another marriage. These γεγαμηκότες, as the ἄγαμοι and χῆραι above, are all Christians. The case of mixed marriage he treats 1 Corinthians 7:12 ff. They are those already married.


Verse 11

11.] ἐάν to καταλλαγήτω is parenthetical. It supposes a case of actual separation, contrary of course to Christ’s command: if such have really taken place ( καί, veritably: see note on 2 Corinthians 5:3, and Hartung, Partikell. i. 132), the additional sin of a new marriage (Matthew 5:32) must not be committed, but the breach healed as soon as possible.

καταλλ.] see above on χωρισθῇ.

κ. ἄνδρ. γυν. μὴ ἀφ.] The Apostle does not add the qualification παρεκτὸς λόγου πορνείας, Matthew 5:32 (Matthew 19:9), not found in Mark 10:11 or Luke 16:18. But we cannot hence infer that he was not aware of it. The rule, not the exception, here was in his mind: and after what had been before said on the subject of fornication, the latter would be understood as a matter of course.


Verse 12

12.] τοῖς λοιποῖς, the rest, perhaps in respect of their letter of enquiry,—the only ones not yet dealt with. At all events, the meaning is plain, being those who are involved in mixed marriages with unbelievers.

ἐγώ, οὐχ ὁ κύρ.] I, i.e. I Paul, in my apostolic office, under the authority of the Holy Spirit (see above on 1 Corinthians 7:10), not the Lord, i.e. not Christ by any direct command spoken by Him: it was a question with which HE did not deal, in His recorded discourses. In the right arrangement of the words (txt) the stress is not on ἐγώ, but on λέγω: But to the rest I say (I, not the Lord).

συν ευδοκεῖ presupposes his own wish to continue united.

αὕτη, not αὐγή, and οὗτος, not αὐτός, below,—see reff.


Verses 12-16

12–16.] Directions for such Christians as were already married to Heathens. Such a circumstance must not be a ground per se of separation,—and why: but if the unbelieving party wished to break off the union, let it be so.


Verse 13

13.] The change of construction καὶ γυνὴ ἥτιςκαὶ οὗτος …, is found frequently with καί: so Il. α. 78, ἦ γὰρ ὀΐομαι ἄνδρα χολωσέμεν, ὃς μέγα πάντων | ἀργείων κρατέει καί οἱ πείθονται ἀχαιοί. See reff., and Kühner, ii. 526 (§ 799).

Meyer remarks, that the Apostle uses the vox media ἀφιέναι here, of both parties, the husband and wife, not ἀπολύειν (as Matthew 5:31, &c.), which would apply only to the husband. In the E. V. this identity of terms is unfortunately neglected. The same word, part from, would well have expressed ἀφιέτω in both cases.

By the Greek as well as Roman customs the wife had the power of effecting a divorce. At Athens,—when the divorce originated with the wife, she was said ἀπολείπειν the house of her husband: when with the husband, ἀποπεμπέσθαι. At Rome, the only exception to the wife’s liberty of effecting a divorce appears to have been in the case of a freedwoman who had married her patronus. See Smith’s Dict, of Gr. and Rom. Antt. artt. Divortium, and ἀπολείψεως δίκη. Olsh. thinks that Paul puts both alternatives, because he regards the Christian party as the superior one in the marriage. But, as Meyer remarks, this would be inconsistent with the fundamental law of marriage, Genesis 3:16, and with the Apostle’s own view of it, ch. 1 Corinthians 11:3, 1 Corinthians 14:34; Ephesians 5:22-23; 1 Timothy 2:11-12.


Verse 14

14.] Ground of the above precept.

ἡγίασται] The meaning will best be apprehended by remembering (1) that holiness, under the Gospel, answers to dedication to God under the law; (2) that the ἡγιασμένοι under the Gospel are the body of Christian men, dedicated to God, and thus become His in a peculiar manner: (3) that this being so, things belonging to, relatives inseparably connected with, the people of God are said to be hallowed by their ἁγιότης: so Theophylact, οὐχ ὅτι ἅγιος γίνεται ὁ ἕλλην. οὐ γὰρ εἶπεν ὅτι ἅγιός ἐστιν· ἀλλʼ, ἡγίασται· τουτέστι, τῇ ἁγιότητι τοῦ πιστοῦ νενίκηται. Chrysostom well shews the distinction between this case and that in ch. 1 Corinthians 6:15, that being a connexion κατὰ τὴν ἀσέβειαν,—in and under the condition of the very state, in which the other party is impure: whereas this is a connexion according to a pure and holy ordinance, by virtue of which, although the physical unity in both cases is the same, the purity overbears the impurity.

ἐν γῇ γ., ἐν τῷ ἀδελ.] in, i.e. his or her ἁγιότης is situated in, rests in, the other (see reff.: and note, ch. 1 Corinthians 6:2).

ἐπεὶ ἄρα] as ref., but here elliptically: since in that case (i.e. as understood, the other alternative,—the non-hallowing).

ἐστιν, not ἂν εἴη, nor ἦν [E. V.], but pres.: because the supposed case is assumed, and the ind. pres. used of what has place on its assumption.

ἅγια] as ἡγίασται above: holy to the Lord. On this fact, Christian children being holy, the argument is built. This being so,—they being hallowed, because the children of Christians,—it follows that that union out of which they sprung, must as such have the same hallowed character; i.e. that the insanctity of the one parent is in it overborne by the sanctity of the other. The fact of the children of Christians, God’s spiritual people, being holy, is tacitly assumed as a matter of course, from the precedent of God’s ancient covenant people. With regard to the bearing of this verse on the subject of Infant Baptism,—it seems to me to have none, further than this: that it establishes the analogy, so far, between Christian and Jewish children, as to shew, that if the initiatory rite of the old covenant was administered to the one,—that of the new covenant, in so far as it was regarded as corresponding to circumcision, would probably as a matter of course be administered to the other. Those, as Meyer, who deny any such inference, forget, as it seems to me, that it is not personal holiness which is here predicated of the children, any more than of the unbelieving husband or wife, but holiness of dedication, by strict dependence on one dedicated. Notwithstanding this ἁγιότης, the Christian child is individually born in sin and a child of wrath; and individually needs the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, just as much as the Jewish child needed the typical purifying of circumcision, and the sacrificial atonements of the law. So that in this ἁγιότης of the Christian child there is nothing inconsistent with the idea, nor with the practice, of Infant Baptism.

On νῦν δέ, see note, ch. 1 Corinthians 5:11.


Verse 15

15.] But if the wish for separation (implied by the present χωρίζεται,—is for being separated, see Winer, edn. 6, § 40. 2. a, and compare John 10:32; John 13:6; John 13:27) proceed from the side of the UNBELIEVER (emphasis on ὁ ἄπιστος), let him (or her) depart (be separated off).

οὐ δεδούλ.] οὐκ ἔχει ἀνάγκην ὁ πιστὸς ἢ ἡ πιστὴ ἐν τοῖς ἀπίστοις τοιαύτην, οἵα αὐτῷ ἐπίκειται ἐπὶ τῶν πιστῶν. ἐκεῖ μὲν γὰρ παντὶ τρόπῳ, χωρὶς λόγῳ πορνείας, οὐκ ἔξεστιν ἀπʼ ἀλλήλων τοὺς συναφθέντας χωριαθῆναι· ἐνταῦθα δέ, ἂν μὲν συνευδοκῇ τὸ ἄπιστον μέρος τῷ πιστῷ συνοικεῖν, δεῖ μὴ λύειν τὸ συνοικέσιον. ἂν δὲ στασιάζῃ καὶ τὴν λύσιν ἐκεῖνος ποιῇ, οὐ δεδούλωται ὁ πιστὸς εἰς τὸ μὴ χωρισθῆναι. Photius, in Œcumenius.

ἐν τοῖς τοιούτοις may be taken as masc., in the case of such persons,—as above by Phot(18):—but the ἐν seems harsh; it is better therefore to render it, in such cases.

ἐν δὲ εἰρ.] Not = εἰς εἰρήνην [E. V.], but signifying the moral element in which we are called to be: see reff. and 1 Corinthians 7:22 below.

The meaning is, ‘let the unbeliever depart, rather than by attempting to retain the union, endanger that peace of household and peace of spirit, which is part of the calling of a Christian.’

Observe, (1) that there is no contradiction, in this licence of breaking off such a marriage, to the command of our Lord in Matthew 5:32,—because the Apostle expressly asserts, 1 Corinthians 7:12, that our Lord’s words do not apply to such marriages as are here contemplated. They were spoken to those within the covenant, and as such apply immediately to the wedlock of Christians (1 Corinthians 7:10), but not to mixed marriages.

De Wette denies this, and holds that Paul is speaking only of the Christian’s duty in cases where the marriage is already virtually broken off,—and by his remarks on Matthew 5:32, seems to take πορνεία in a wide sense, and to regard it as a justifiable cause of divorce because it is such a breaking off. This however appears hardly consistent with 1 Corinthians 7:12; for, if it were so, there would be a command of the Lord regarding this case. At all events, we may safely assume that where the Apostle is distinctly referring to our Lord’s command, and supplying what it did not contain, there can be no real inconsistency: if such appear to be, it must be in our apprehension, not in his words. (2) That the question of re-marrying after such a separation, is here left open: ou this, see note on Matthew 5:32. (3) That not a word here said can be so strained as to imply any licence to contract marriages with unbelievers. Only those already contracted are dealt with: the ἑτεροζυγεῖν ἀπίστοις is expressly forbidden, 2 Corinthians 6:14, and by implication below, 1 Corinthians 7:39.


Verse 16

16.] This verse is generally understood as a ground for remaining united, as 1 Corinthians 7:13, in hope that conversion of the unbelieving party may follow. Thus 1 Corinthians 7:15 is regarded as altogether parenthetical. But (1) this interpretation is harsh as regards the context, for 1 Corinthians 7:15 is evidently not parenthetical,—and (2) it is hardly grammatically admissible (see below, for it makes εἰ = εἰ μή,—‘What knowest thou … whether thou shalt not save.…?’ Lyra seems first to have proposed the true rendering, which was afterwards adopted hesitatingly by Estius, and of late decidedly by Meyer, De Wette, and Bisping: viz. that the verse is not a ground for remaining united, in hope, &c.,—but a ground for consummating a separation, and not marring the Christian’s peace for so uncertain a prospect as that of converting the unbelieving party. τί οἶδας εἰ thus preserves its strict sense, What knowest thou (about the question) whether.…? and the verse coheres with the words immediately preceding, ἐν εἰρήνῃ κέκλ. ἡμᾶς ὁ θ.

I may observe, in addition to Meyer and De W.’s remarks, that the position of the words further establishes this rendering. If the point of the argument had been the importance, or the prospect, of saving (= converting) the unbelieving party, the arrangement would probably have been εἰ σώσεις τὸν ἄνδρα, and εἰ σώσεις τὴν γυναῖκα, whereas now the verb holds in both clauses a subordinate place, rather subjective to the person addressed, than the main object in the mind of the writer.

Those who take εἰ for εἰ μή, attempt to justify it by reff. 2 Kings, Joel, Jonah, where the LXX have for the Heb. מִי יוֹדַעֵ, τίς οἶδεν εἰ, to express hope: but (1) in every one of those passages the verb stands in the emphatic position, and (2) the LXX use this very expression to signify uncertainty, e.g. ref. Eccles., τίς εἶδε( οἶδεν (19) (20) (21): add τό (22) (23)3) πνεῦμα υἱῶν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, εἰ ἀναβαίνει αὐτὸ (add εἰς (24) (25) (26) (27)) ἄνω;

The rendering then of the verse will be as follows: (Let the unbeliever depart: hazard not for an uncertainty the peace in which you ought to be living as Christians): for what assurance hast thou, O wife, whether thou shalt be the means of thy husband’s conversion? Or what assurance hast thou, O husband, whether thou shalt be the means of thy wife’s conversion? “This interpretation is the only one compatible with the obvious sense of 1 Corinthians 7:15, and of the expression (not τί οἶδας εἰ μή, but) τί οἶδας εἰ σώσεις; and is also in exact harmony with the general tenor of the Apostle’s argument, which is not to urge a union, but to tolerate a separation.” Stanley; the rest of whose note is deeply interesting as to the historical influence of the verse as commonly misunderstood.


Verse 17

17.] εἰ μή takes an exception, by way of caution, to the foregoing motive for not remaining together (1 Corinthians 7:16). The Christian partner might carry that motive too far, and be tempted by it to break the connexion on his own part; a course already prohibited (1 Corinthians 7:12-14). Therefore the Apostle adds, But (q. d. only be careful not to make this a ground for yourselves causing the separation) as to each ( ἑκάστ. ὡς = ὡς ἑκάστ., reff.) the Lord distributed (his lot), as (i.e. κλήσει, 1 Corinthians 7:20) God has called each, so (in that state, without change) let him walk (reff.). The εἰ μή has raised considerable difficulties. (1) some cursives, with syr-marg and Sevrn., read εἰ τὴν γυναῖκα σώσεις, μή;—and Knatchbull, al., join εἰ μή similarly to the foregoing; εἰ.… σώσεις,— εἰ μή. But as De W. remarks, this would be, as Matthew 22:17, ἢ οὐ: and then we should have the strictly parallel clauses of 1 Corinthians 7:16 rendered unequal, by an appendage being attached to the second, which the first has not: besides that 1 Corinthians 7:17 would be disjoined altogether. (2) Pott would supply χωρίζεται,—Mosheim, Vater, and Rückert, σώσεις, after εἰ μή. But so, to say nothing of the irrelevancy of the idea thus introduced, εἰ δὲ μή, or εἰ δὲ καὶ μή (as Meyer), would be required. (3) Theodoret, al., join all as far as κύριος to the foregoing: ‘What knowest thou, &c., except in so far as the Lord has apportioned to each?’ But thus the evidently parallel members, ἑκάστ. ὡς ἐμ. ὁ κύρ., and ἑκάστ. ὡς κέκλ. ὁ θ., would be separated, and a repetition occasioned which, except in the case of intended parallelism, would be alien from St. Paul’s habit of writing.

οὕτως.… διατ.] τοῦτο εἶπεν, ἵνα τῷ ἔχειν καὶ ἄλλους κοινωνοὺς προθυμότεροι περὶ τὴν ὑπακοὴν διατεθῶσι. Theophyl.


Verse 18

18. ἐκλήθη] Was any one called in circumcision,—i.e. circumcised at the time of his conversion.

ἐπισπάσθω] By a surgical operation; see Theophyl., Wetst.,—Winer, Realwörterbuch, art. Beschneidung,—Jos. Antt. xii. 5. 1; 1 Maccabees 1:15; Celsus de Re Medica, vii. 25 (in Wetst.). The practice usually was adopted by those who wished to appear like the Gentiles, and to cast off their ancient faith and habits. Among the Christians a strong anti-Judaistic feeling might lead to it.

περιτεμνέσθω] See Galatians 5:2, al.


Verses 18-20

18–20.] First example: CIRCUMCISION.


Verses 18-24

18–24.] Examples of the precept just given. εἶτα συνήθως ἀπὸ τοῦ προκειμένου εἰς ἕτερα μεταβαίνει, πᾶσι νομοθετῶν τὰ κατάλληλα. Theodoret.


Verse 19

19.] See Galatians 5:6, where our τήρησις ἐντολῶν θεοῦ is expressed by πίστις διʼ ἀγάπης ἐνεργουμένη; and Galatians 6:15, where it is given by καινὴ κτίσις. Cf. an interesting note in Stanley, on the relation of these three descriptions. After θεοῦ, supply τὰ πάντα ἐστίν: see ch. 1 Corinthians 3:7.


Verse 20

20.] Formal repetition of the general precept, as again 1 Corinthians 7:24.

κλῆσις is not the calling in life, for it never has that meaning either in classical or Hellenistic Greek (in the example which Wetst. gives from Dion. Hal. Antt. iv. 20, κλήσεις is used to express the Latin ‘classes,’— ἃς καλοῦσιν ῥωμαῖοι κλήσεις, and so is not a Greek word at all); but strictly calling (‘vocatio’) by God, as in ref. The κλῆσις of a circumcised person would be a calling in circumcision,—and by this he was to abide.

ἐν τῇ ἐν ταύτῃ] See ch. 1 Corinthians 6:4; emphatic.


Verses 21-24

21–24.] Second example: SLAVERY. Wert thou called (converted) [being] a slave, let it not be a trouble to thee: but if thou art even able to become free, use it (i.e. remain in slavery) rather. This rendering, which is that of Chrys., Theodoret, Theophyl., Œcum, Phot(28), Camerar., Estius, Wolf, Bengel, Meyer, De Wette, al., is required by the usage of the particles, εἰ καί,—by which, see Hartung, Partikellehre, i. 139, the καί, ‘also,’ or ‘even,’ does not belong to the εἰ, as in καὶ εἰ, but is spread over the whole contents of the concessive clause: so Soph. Œd. Tyr. 302, πόλιν μέν, εἰ καὶ μὴ βλέπεις, φρονεῖς δʼ ὅμως, οἵᾳ νόσῳ ξύνεστιν. Plato, Rep. p. 337, εἰ δʼ οὖν καὶ μή ἐστιν ὅμοιον, φαίνεται δὲ τῷ ἐρωτηθέντι τοιούτων. Aristoph. Lysistr. 254, χώρει, δράκης, ἡγοῦ βάδην, εἰ καὶ τὸν ὦμον ἀλγεῖς. Thucyd. ii. 64, μήτε ἐμὲ διʼ ὀργῆς ἔχετεεἰ καὶ ἐπελθόντες οἱ ἐναντίοι ἔδρασαν, ἅπερ εἰκὸς ἦν μὴ ἐθελησάντων ὑμῶν ὑπακούειν. See more examples in Hartung. It is also required by the context: for the burden of the whole passage is, ‘Let each man remain in the state in which he was called.’ It is given in the Syr.: which has ܓܒܝ ܠܟ ܕܬܦܠܝܘܝܝ “choose for thyself that thou mayest serve,” or simply, “prefer servitude:” not as Meyer from the erroneous Latin of Tremelius, “elige tibi potius quam ut servias” (I am indebted for this correction of some of my earlier editions to the kindness of the Rev. Henry Craik, of Bristol). The other interpretation,—mentioned by Chrys., and given by Erasm., Luther (Stanley is mistaken in quoting him as favourable to the other interpretation: his words are, “Bist du ein Knecht berusen, sorge der nicht: doch, kannst du frei werben, so brauche deß viel lieber”), Beza, Calvin, Grot., and almost all the moderns,—understands τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ after χρῆσαι: ‘but if thou art able to become free, take advantage of it rather.’ The objections to this are, (1) the position of καί, which in this case must have been after δύνασαι,— εἰ δύνασαι καὶ ἐλεύθερος γενέσθαι, or have been absent altogether. (2) The clause would hardly have begun with ἀλλὰ εἰ but with εἰ, δέ—so the alternative suppositions in 1 Corinthians 7:9; 1 Corinthians 7:11; 1 Corinthians 7:15; 1 Corinthians 7:28; 1 Corinthians 7:36. The ἀλλά brings out a strong opposition to the μελέτω, and implies a climax which would ill suit a merely parenthetic clause, but must convey the point of the sentence. (3) The absence of a demonstrative pronoun after χρῆσαι, by which we are thrown back, not on the secondary subject of the sentence, ἐλευθερίᾳ, but on the primary, δουλείᾳ. (4) Its utter inconsistency with the general context. The Apostle would thus be giving two examples of the precept ἕκαστος ἐν ᾧ ἐκλήθη ἐν τούτῳ μενέτω, one of which would convey a recommendation of the contrary course. See this followed out in Chrysostom. (5) Its entire contradiction to 1 Corinthians 7:22; see below. (6) It would be quite inconsistent with the teaching of the Apostle,—that in Christ (Galatians 3:28) freeman and slave are all one,—and with his remarks on the urgency and shortness of the time in this chapter (1 Corinthians 7:29 ff.),—to turn out of his way to give a precept merely of worldly wisdom, that a slave should become free if he could. (7) The import of χράομαι in such a connexion, which suits better the remaining in, enduring, labouring under, giving one’s self up to, an already-existing state, than the adopting or taking advantage of a new one; cf. such expressions as τοιούτῳ μόρῳ ἐχρήσατο ὁ παῖς, Herod. i. 117: συμφορᾷ, συντυχίᾳ, εὐτυχίᾳ, χρῆσθαι, often in Herod.: ἀμαθίᾳ χρῆσθαι, and the like. The instance quoted by Bloomfield for ‘become free,’ ἑκὼν γὰρ οὐδεὶς δουλίῳ χρῆται ζύγῳ, Æsch. Agam. 953, tells just the other way. There χρῆται is used not of entering, but of submitting to, the yoke of slavery, as here.


Verse 22

22.] Ground of the above precept. For the slave who was called in the Lord (not, as E. V. and De Wette, ‘He who is called in the Lord, being a slave,’ which would be δοῦλος κληθείς, see above, δοῦλος ἐκλῆθης:

ἐν κυρίῳ, as the element in which what is about to be stated takes place) is the Lord’s freedman (“ ἀπελεύθερος with genit. is not here in the ordinary sense of ‘libertus alicujus,’ ‘any one’s manumitted slave:’ for the former master was sin or the devil, see on ch. 1 Corinthians 6:20;—but only a freedman belonging to Christ, viz. freed by Christ from the service of another. This the reader would understand as a matter of course.” Meyer): similarly he that was called being free (not here, κληθεὶς ἐλεύθερος, see above) is the slave of Christ. Christ’s service is perfect freedom, and the Christian’s freedom is the service of Christ. But here the Apostle takes, in each case, one member of this double antithesis from the outer world, one from the spiritual. The (actual) slave is (spiritually) free: the (actually) free is a (spiritual) slave. So that the two are so mingled, in the Lord, that the slave need not trouble himself about his slavery, nor seek for this world’s freedom, seeing he has a more glorious freedom in Christ, and seeing also that his brethren who seem to be free in this world are in fact Christ’s servants, as he is a servant. It will be plain that the reason given in this verse is quite inconsistent with the prevalent modern rendering of 1 Corinthians 7:21.


Verse 23

23.] Following out of δοῦλός ἐστιν χριστοῦ, by reminding them of the PRICE PAID whereby Christ PURCHASED them for His (ch. 1 Corinthians 6:20): and precept thereupon, BECOME NOT SLAVES OF MEN: i.e. ‘do not allow your relations to human society, whether of freedom or slavery, to bring you into bondage so as to cause you anxiety to change the one or increase the other.’ Chrys., al., think the precept directed against ὀφθαλμοδουλεία, and general regard to men’s opinion. But it is better to restrict it (however it may legitimately be applied generally) to the case in hand. Hammond, Knatchbull, Michaelis, al., understand it as addressed to the free, and meaning that they are not to sell themselves into slavery: but this is evidently wrong: as may be seen by the change to the second person plur. as addressing all his readers: besides that a new example would have been marked as in 1 Corinthians 7:18; 1 Corinthians 7:21. See Stanley’s note.


Verse 24

24.] The rule it again repeated, but with the addition παρὰ θεῷ, reminding them of the relations of Christ’s freedman and Christ’s slave, and of the price paid, just mentioned:—of that relation to God in which they stood by means of their Christian calling. “The usual rendering, Deo inspectante (Grot.), i.e. ‘perpetuo memores, vos in ejus conspectu versari’ (Beza), does not so well suit the local word μενέτω.” Meyer.


Verse 25

25.] παρθένων is not, as Theodor-mops(29), Bengel, Olsh., al., unmarried persons of both sexes, a meaning which, though apparently found in Revelation 14:4 (see note there), is perfectly unnecessary here, and appears to have been introduced from a mistaken view of 1 Corinthians 7:26-28.

The emphasis is on ἐπιταγήν—command of the Lord have I none, i.e. no expressed precept: so that, as before, there is no marked comparison between ὁ κύριος and ἐγώ.

πιστὸς εἶναι] to be faithful, as in ref.,—as a steward and dispenser of the hidden things of God, and, among them, of such directions as you cannot make for yourselves, but require one so entrusted to impart to you. This sense, which has occurred in the estimate given of himself in this very Epistle, is better than the more general ones of true (Billroth, Rückert) or believing (Olsh., Meyer, De Wette).


Verses 25-38

25–38.] Advice (with some digressions connected with the subject) concerning the MARRIAGE OF VIRGINS.


Verse 26

26.] The question of the marriage of virgins is one involving the expediency of contracting marriage in general: this he deals with now, on grounds connected with the then pressing necessity.

οὖν, then, follows on γνώμ. δίδωμι, and introduces the γνώμη.

τοῦτο indicates what is coming, viz. τὸ οὕτως εἶναι.

καλόν, see note on 1 Corinthians 7:1; the best way.

τὴν ἐνεστῶς. ἀνάγκ.] the instant necessity: viz. that prophesied by the Lord, Matthew 24:8; Matthew 24:21, &c.: which shall precede His coming: see especially 1 Corinthians 7:19 there: not, the cares of marriage, as Theophyl., διὰ τὰς ἐν αὐτῷ δυσκολίας, κ. τὰ τοῦ γάμου ὀχληρὰ: nor persecutions, as Photius in Œcum., al., which are only a part of the apprehended troubles. These the Apostle regards as instant, already begun: for this is the meaning of ἐνεστῶσαν, not imminent, shortly to come: see reff. and Jos. Antt. xvi. 6. 2, τὸ ἔθνος τῶν ἱουδαίων εὐχάριστον εὑρέθη, οὐ μόνον ἐν τῷ ἐνεστῶτι καιρῷ, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν τῷ προγεγενημένῳ,—where all time future is evidently excluded. See note on 2 Thessalonians 2:2, where this distinction is very important.

ὅτι καλ. ἀνθ.…] De Wette takes ὅτι as because, understanding τοῦτο above = τὸ παρθένον εἶναι, ‘that this (virginity) is best on account of the instant necessity, because it is (generally) best for a man so to be (i.e. unmarried).’ But this seems constrained, and tautological, and the only rescue of it from the charge of tautology is found in the word ‘generally,’ which is not in the text. Far better, with Meyer and most interpreters, to view the sentence as an anacoluthon, begun with one construction, τοῦτο καλὸν ὑπάρχειν, and finished, without regard to this, when on account of the intervening words it became necessary to restate the καλόν, with another construction, ὅτι, &c. Thus we shall have it, literally rendered: I think then this to be the best way on account of the instant necessity, that it is the best way for a man thus to be.

ἀνθρώπῳ, not as in 1 Corinthians 7:1 (which in its outward form will not bear the wider meaning), but here purposely general, including those treated of, young females.

οὕτως = ὡς κἀγώ as 1 Corinthians 7:8? or perhaps ὡς ἐστίν, which seems better on account of the following context, 1 Corinthians 7:27. This, in the case of the unmarried, would amount to the other: and the case of virgins is now that especially under consideration.


Verse 27

27.] τὸ οὕτως εἶναι restated and illustrated: neither the married nor the unmarried are to seek for a change. The general recommendation here is referable alike to all cases of marriage, and does not touch on the prohibition of 1 Corinthians 7:10,—only dissuading from a spirit of change, in consideration of the ἐνεστῶσα ἀνάγκη. It seems better to take the verse thus, than with Meyer and De Wette, to regard it as inserted to guard against misunderstanding of the preceding γνώμη of the Apostle.

λέλυσαι does not imply previous marriage, but as Phot(30), οὐχὶ πρὸς τοὺς συναφθέντας, εἶτα διαλυθέντας, … ἀλλαʼ ἁπλῶς πρὸς τοὺς μὴ συνελθόντας ὅλως εἰς γάμου κοινωνίαν, ἀλλὰ λελυμένους ὄντας τοῦ τοιούτου δεσμοῦ,—and Estius, “intelligit liberum a conjugio, sive uxorem aliquando habuerit, sive non.”


Verse 28

28.] Not sin, but outward trouble, will be incurred by contracting marriage, whether in the case of the unmarried man or of the virgin; and it is to spare them this, that he gives his advice. But if also ( καί, of the other alternative: see 1 Corinthians 7:21) thou shalt have married, thou didst not sin (viz. when thou marriedst); and if a virgin (if the art. is to stand, it is generic) shall have married, she sinned not; but such persons (viz. οἱ γήμαντες) shall have tribulation in the flesh (it is doubtful, as Meyer remarks, whether the dative belongs to the substantive,—trouble for the flesh,—or to the verb,—shall have in the flesh trouble): but I (emphatic—my motive is) am sparing you (endeavouring to spare you this θλῖψιν τῇ σαρκί, by advising you to keep single).


Verse 29

29.] τοῦτο δέ φημι … q. d. ‘What I just now said, of marrying being no sin, might dispose you to look on the whole matter as indifferent: my motive, the sparing you outward affliction, may be underrated in the importance of its bearing: but I will add this solemn consideration.’

ὁ καιρ. συνεστ. ἐστ. τὸ λοιπόν] The time that remains is short; lit., ‘the time is shortened henceforth:’—i.e. the interval between now and the coming of the Lord has arrived at an extremely contracted period. These words have been variously misunderstood. (1) ὁ καιρός has been by some (Calvin, Estius, al.) interpreted ‘the space of man’s life on earth:’ which, however true it may be, and however legitimate this application of the Apostle’s words, certainly was not in his mind, nor is it consistent with his usage of ὁ καιρός: see Romans 13:11; Ephesians 5:16,—or with that in the great prophecy of our Lord which is the key to this chapter, Luke 21:8; Mark 13:33. (2) συνεσταλμένος has been understood as meaning calamitosus (so Rosenm., Rückert, Olshausen, al.). But it never has this signification. In such passages as 1 Maccabees 3:6; 1 Maccabees 5:3; 2 Maccabees 6:12, παρακαλῶ.… μὴ συστέλλεσθαι διὰ τὰς συμφοράς: 3 Maccabees 5:33, τῇ ὁράσεισυνεστάλη,—it has the meaning of humbling, depressing, which would be obviously inapplicable to καιρός. The proper meaning of συστέλλεσθαι, to be contracted, is found in Diod. Sic. i. 41, διὸ καὶ τὸν νεῖλον εὐλόγως κατὰ τὸν χειμῶνα μικρὸν εἶναι καὶ συστέλλεσθαι. It is, as Schrader well renders it, ‘in Kurzem sturzt die alte Welt zusammen.’ συστέλλεσθαι and συστολή are the regular grammatical words used of the shortening of a syllable in prosody. (3) τὸ λοιπόν has been by some (Tertull. ad Uxorem i. 5 (vol. i. p. 1283), Jer(31) de perp. virg. B. V. M. adv. Helv. 20 (vol. ii. p. 227), on Ezekiel 7:13 (lib. ii., vol. v. p. 69), on Ecclesiastes 3. (vol. iii. p. 410),—Vulg., Erasm., Luther, Calvin, Estius; also E. V. and Lachm.) joined to what follows; ‘it remains that both they,’ &c. But thus ( α) the sense of ἵνα will not be satisfied—see below: ( β) the usage of τὸ λοιπόν is against it, which would require it to stand alone, and the sense not to be carried on as it is in ‘superest ut,’ τὸ λοιπόν, ἵνα …,—see reff. and Philippians 3:1; Philippians 4:8; (1 Thessalonians 4:1;) 2 Thessalonians 3:1. ( γ) The continuity of the passage would be very harshly broken: whereas by the other rendering all proceeds naturally. We have exactly parallel usages of τὸ λοιπόν in reff.

ἵνα καὶ] The end for which the time has been (by God) thus gathered up into a short compass: in order that both they, &c.: i.e. in order that Christians, those who wait for and shall inherit the coming kingdom, may keep themselves loosed in heart from worldly relationships and employments: that, as Meyer, “the married may not fetter his interests to his wedlock, nor the mourner to his misfortunes, nor the joyous to his prosperity, nor the man of commerce to his gain, nor the user of the world to his use of the world.”

This is the only legitimate meaning of ἵνα with the subj. The renderings which make it = ὅτε, ‘tempus … futurum cum ei qui uxores habent pares futuri sint non habentibus,’ Grot., or ‘ubi’ (local), are inadmissible. We may notice that according to this only right view of ἵνα, the clauses following are not precepts of the Apostle, but the objects as regards us, of the divine counsel in shortening the time.


Verses 29-31

29–31.] He enforces the foregoing advice by solemnly reminding them of the shortness of the time, and the consequent duty of sitting loose to all worldly ties and employments.


Verse 30

30. ὡς μὴ κατέχοντες] as not POSSESSING (their gains). So in the line of Lucretius (iii. 984), “Vitaque mancupio nulli datur, omnibus usu.”


Verse 31

31. χρώμενοι καταχρώμενοι] The κατά, as in κατέχοντες, appears here to imply that intense and greedy use which turns the legitimate use into a fault. This meaning is better than ‘abuse,’ which is allowable philologically, and is adopted by Theodoret, Theophyl., Œc(32), Luther, Olsh., al., but destroys the parallel. I would render them, and they who use the world, as not using it in full. So, or merely ‘as not using it,’ regarding καταχρ. = χρ.,—Vulg., Calv., Grot., Estius, al., and Meyar and de Wette. χρῆσθαι with an acc. is found only here: never in classical Greek, and very rarely in Hellenistic. Almost the only undoubted instance (in ref. Wisd., A reads κτησάμενοι, and is supported by (33)3a. In Xen. Ages. xii. 11, we have τὸ μεγαλόφρονἐχρῆτο, but most edd. read τῷ μεγαλόφρονι) seems to be in a Cretan inscription, Boeckh, Corp. Inscr. ii. 400, καὶ τὰ ἄλλα πάντα χρήμενοι, ἐν δὲ τᾷ ὁδῷ τὰς ξενικὰς θοίνας. See Bornemann, note on Acts 27:17, where βοηθείας is a var. read. in some mss.

παράγει γὰρ] gives a reason for ὁ καιρ. συνεσταλμ. ἐστ. τὸ λοιπ., the clauses which have intervened being subordinate to those words: see above. Emphasis on παράγει: for the fashion (present external from, cf. Herodian i. 9 ἀνὴρ φιλοσόφον φέρων σχῆμα, and other examples in Wetst.) of this world is passing away (is in the act being changed, as a passing scence ina play: cf. πάραγε πτέρυγας, Eur. Ion, 165). This shews that the time is short:—the form of this world is already beginning to pass away.

Grot., al., according to the mistaken view of 1 Corinthians 7:20,—‘non manebunt, quæ nunc sunt, res tranquillæ, sed mutabuntur in turbidas.’ Theophyl. and many Commentators understand the saying of worldly affairs in generalἄχρις ὄψεώς εἰσι τὰ τοῦ παρόντος κόσμου, καὶ ἐπιπόλαια:—but this is inconsistent with the right interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7:29; see there. Stanley compares a remarkable parallel, 2 Esdras 16:40-44, probably copied from this passage.


Verse 32

32. θέλω δὲ] But (i.e. since this is so—since the time is short, and that, in order that we Christians may sit loose to the world) I wish you to be without wordly cares (undistracted). Then he explains how this touches on the subject.

πῶς ἀρέσῃ—how he may please: πῶς ἀρέσει—‘how he shall please.’ The variety being not in reality a various reading, but only an itacism, I retain the form found in the most ancient MSS.


Verses 32-34

32–34.] Application of what has been just said to the question of marriage.


Verse 34

34.] See var. readd.: I treat here only of the text.

Divided also is the (married) woman and the virgin (i.e.divided in interest (i.e. in cares and pursuits) from one another: οὐ τὴν αὐτὴν ἔχουσι φροντίδα, ἀλλὰ μεμερισμέναι εἰσὶ ταῖς σπουδαῖς, Theophyl.: not merely, different from one another, as E. V., Chrys., Luth., Grot., al. Divisa est mulier et virgo D-lat G-lat Tert). It may be well to remark as to the reading, on which see Digest,—that Jerome testifies to this having been the reading of the old Latin copies, and himself sometimes quotes the passage in this form; but, when speaking of it critically, he states that it is not in the “apostohca veritas,” i.e., it would seem, the Greek as understood by him. “Nunc illud breviter admoneo in Latinis codicibus hunc locum ita legi: ‘Divisa est virgo et mulier;’ quod quamquam habent suum sensum, et a me quoque pro qualitate loci sic edissertum sit, tamen, non est apostolicæ veritatis. Siquidem Apostolus ita scripsit, ut supra transtulimus: ‘Sollicitns est quæ sunt mundi, quomodo placeat uxori, et divisus est.’ Et hac sententia definita transgreditur ad virgines et continentes et ait: ‘Mulier innupta et virgo cogitat quæ sunt Domini ut sit sancta corpore et spiritu.’ Non omnis innupta, et virgo est. Quæ autem virgo utique et innupta est. Quamquam ob elegantiam dictionis potuerit id ipsum altera verbo repetere, ‘mulier innupta et virgo:’ vel certe definire voluisse quid esset innupta, id est virgo: ne meretrices putemus innuptas, nulli certo matrimonio copulatas” (Jer(34) contra Jovin. i. 13, vol. ii. p. 260). The sing. verb seems to be used, as standing first in this sentence, and because ἡ γυνὴ κ. ἡ παρθ. embraces the female sex as one idea: so e.g. Plato, Lys. p. 207, φιλεῖ σε ὁ πατὴρ καὶ ἡ μήτηρ: Herod. 1 Corinthians 7:21, εἵπετο γὰρ δή σφι κ. ὀχήματα κ. θεράποντες καὶ ἡ πᾶσα πολλὴ παρασκευή: q. d. ‘There loves thee father and mother,’—‘there followed them,’ &c. See more examples in Kühner, ii. p. 58 (§ 433, exception 1):—Reiche thinks that one and the same woman is intended at different periods: but ἡ δὲ γαμήσασα is against this: it would be γαμήσασα δέ (Meyer).

The judgment of marriage here pronounced by the Apostle must be taken, as the rest of the chapter, with its accompanying conditions. He is speaking of a pressing and quickly shortening period which he regards as yet remaining before that day and hour of which neither he, nor any man, knew. He wishes his Corinthians, during that short time, to be as far as possible totally undistracted. He mentions as an objection to marriage, that which is an undoubted fact of human experience:—which is necessarily bound up with that relation: and without which the duties of the relation could not be fulfilled. Since he wrote, the unfolding of God’s providence has taught us more of the interval before the coming of the Lord than it was given even to an inspired Apostle to see. And as it would be perfectly reasonable and proper to urge on an apparently dying man the duty of abstaining from contracting new worldly obligations,—but both unreasonable and improper, should the same person recover his health, to insist on this abstinence any longer: so now, when God has manifested His will that nations should rise up and live and decay, and long centuries elapse before the day of the coming of Christ, it would be manifestly unreasonable to urge,—except in so far as every man’s καιρός is συνεσταλμένος, and similar arguments are applicable,—the considerations here enforced. Meanwhile they stand here on the sacred page as a lesson to us how to regard, though in circumstances somewhat changed, our worldly relations; and to teach us, as the coming of the Lord may be as near now, as the Apostle then believed it to be, to act at least in the spirit of his advice, and be, as far as God’s manifest will that we should enter into the relations and affairs of life allows, ἀμέριμνοι. The duty of 1 Corinthians 7:35 fin. is incumbent on all Christians, at all periods.


Verse 35

35.] Caution against mistaking what has been said for an imperative order, whereas it was only a suggestion for their best interest.

τοῦτο] 1 Corinthians 7:32-34.

πρὸς τὸ ὑμ. αὐτ. σύμ.] For your own (emph.) profit,—i.e. not for my own purposes—not to exercise my apostolic authority: not that I may cast a snare (lit. ‘a noose;’ the metaphor is from throwing the noose in hunting, or in war; so Herod. vii. 85, ἡ δὲ μάχη τούτεων τῶν ἀνδρῶν ἥδε. ἐπεὰν συμμίσγωσι τοῖς πολεμίοις, βάλλουσι τὰς σειρὰς ἐπʼ ἄκρῳ βρόχους ἔχουσας, ὅτευ δʼ ἂν τύχῃ ἤντε ἵππου ἤντε ἀνθρώπου, ἐπʼ ἑωϋτὸν ἕλκει· οἱ δὲ ἐν ἕρκεσι ἐμπαλασσόμενοι διαφθείρονται. See other examples in Wetst.) over you (i.e. entangle and encumber you with difficult precepts), but with a view to seemliness (cf. Romans 13:13) and waiting upon the Lord without distraction. De W. remarks, that πρὸς τὸ παρεδρεύειν τῷ κ. ἀπερ. would be the easier construction. Stanley draws out the parallel to the story in ref. Luke.


Verses 36-38

36–38.] For seemliness’ sake: and consequently, if there be danger, by a father withholding his consent to his daughter’s marriage, of unseemly treatment of her, let an exception be made in that case: but otherwise, if there be no such danger, it is better not to give her in marriage. But (introduces an inconsistency with εὔσχημον) if any one (any father) thinks that he is behaving unseemly towards his virgin daughter (viz. in setting before her a temptation to sin with her lover, or at least, bringing on her the imputation of it, by withholding his consent to her marriage. Or the reference may be to the supposed disgrace of having an unmarried daughter in his house), if she be of full age (for before that the imputation and the danger consequent on preventing the marriage would not be such as to bring in the ἀσχημοσύνη.

The ἀκμή of woman is defined by Plato, Rep. v. p. 460, to be twenty years, that of man thirty. See Stanley’s note [and ref. Sir.]), and thus it must be (i.e. and there is no help for it,—they are bent on it beyond the power of dissuasion:—depends not on ἐάν, as the indic. shews, but on εἰ. οὕτως, viz. that they must marry.

Theophyl. takes the words for the beginning of the consequent sentence = οὕτως καὶ γενέσθω. But, as Meyer remarks, the words would thus be altogether superfluous, and after ὀφείλει, οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει would be inapplicable), what he will (as his determination on this νομίζειν), let him do ( τὸ δοκοῦν πραττέτω, Theodoret), he sinneth not ( ἁμαρτίας γὰρ ὁ γάμος ἐλεύθερος, Theodoret); let them (his daughter and her lover) marry. Some (Syr., Grot., al.) take ἀσχημονεῖν passively,—‘thinks that he is (likely to be) brought into disgrace as regards his daughter,’ viz. by her seduction, or by her being despised as unmarried. But this would require (1) the future ἀσχημονήσειν.—(2) ἐπί with a dative, the acc. shewing that the verb is one of action: Meyer compares ἀσχημονεῖν εἴς τινα, Dion. Hal. ii. 26. And (3) the active sense of the verb is found in this Epistle (ref.), the only other place where it occurs in the N. T.


Verse 37

37.] But he who stands firm in his heart (= purpose,—having no such misgiving that he is behaving unseemly), not involved in any necessity (no ὀφείλει γενέσθαι as in the other case; no determination to marry on the part of his daughter, nor attachment formed), but has (change of construction:—the clause is opposed to ἔχων ἀνάγκ.) liberty of action respecting his personal wish (to keep his daughter unmarried), and has determined this in his own (expressed, as it is a matter of private determination only) heart ( τοῦτο, not stated what, but understood by the reader to mean, the keeping his daughter unmarried:—but this would not be in apposition with nor explained by τοῦ τηρ. τ. ἑαυτ. παρθ., see below), to keep (in her present state) his own virgin daughter (the rec., τοῦ τηρ., would express the purpose of the determination expressed in κέκρικεν: not (as commonly given) the explanation of τοῦτο, which would require τὸ τηρεῖν or τηρεῖν. It shews that the motive of the κέκρικεν is the feeling of a father, desirous of retaining in her present state his own virgin daughter. So Meyer, and I think rightly: see note on Acts 27:1. De Wette, on the other hand, regards the words τοῦ τηρ.…, as merely a periphrasis for not giving her in marriage. Our present text merely explains the τοῦτο), shall do well.


Verse 38

38.] The latter καί has been altered to δέ because a contrast seemed to be required between καλῶς and κρεῖσσον. One account might be (as M(35) and De W.) that Paul had intended to write καλῶς ποι. twice, but currente calamo, intensified the expression to κρεῖσσον ποιῆσει. Perhaps a better one will be found by referring the καὶκαί to that which καλῶς and κρεῖσσον have in common: ‘both he who gives in marriage does well, and he who gives not in marriage shall do well, even in a higher degree.’ I need hardly remind the tiro that ‘both—and’ here does not, as Bloomf. objects, represent τε καί,—each subject being accompanied by its own predicate. Observe the ποιήσειποιεῖποιήσει; the pres., of the mere act itself, the fut., of its enduring results.


Verse 39

39. δέδεται] viz. τῷ ἀνδρί, or perhaps absolutely, is bound, in her marriage state.

γαμηθῆναι] γαμηθῆναι and γαμῆσαι are later forms, reprobated by the grammarians: γαμεθῆναι and γαμέσαι being the corresponding ones in good Greek. See Lobeck on Phrynichus, p. 742.

Meyer cites Schol. on Eur. Med. 593, γαμεῖ μὲν γὰρ ὁ ἀνήρ, γαμεῖται δὲ ἡ γυνή. But not invariably, see 1 Corinthians 7:28.

μόνον ἐν κυρίῳ] only in the Lord, i.e. within the limits of Christian connexion—in the element in which all Christians live and walk;—‘let her marry a Christian.’ So Tertull., Cypr(36), Ambrose, Jerome, Grot., Est., Bengel, Rosenm., Olsh., Meyer, De W. But Chrys. explains it μετὰ σωφροσύνης, μετὰ κοσμιότητος:—and so (but in some cases including in this the marrying of a Christian) Theodoret ( τουτέστιν ὁμοπίστῳ, εὐσεβεῖ, σωφρόνως, ἐννόμως), Theophyl., Calv., Beza, Calov., al. This however seems flat, and the other much to be preferred; also as making a better limitation of ᾧ θέλει.


Verse 39-40

39, 40.] Concerning second marriages of women.


Verse 40

40. μακαριωτέρα] [not merely happier, in our merely social secular sense, but including this] happier, partly by freedom from the attendant trials of the ἐνεστῶσα ἀνάγκη,—but principally for the reason mentioned 1 Corinthians 7:34. “To higher blessedness in heaven, which became attached to celibacy afterwards in the views of its defenders (Ambrose, Corn.-a-Lap., al.), there is no allusion here.” Meyer.

δοκῶ δὲ κἀγώ] This is modestly said, implying more than is expressed by it,—not as if there were any uncertainty in his mind. It gives us the true meaning of the saying that he is giving his opinion, as 1 Corinthians 7:25; viz. not that he is speaking without inspiration, but that in the consciousness of inspiration he is giving that counsel which should determine the question. The rationalizing Grotius explains πνεῦμα θεοῦ, ‘non revelationem, sed sincerum affectum Deo et piis serviendi,’ referring to ch. 1 Corinthians 4:21, where (1) the meaning is not this (see note); and (2) the expression is not πνεῦμα θεοῦ.

κἀγώ] ‘as well as other teachers.’ Whether said with a general or particular reference, we cannot tell, from not being sufficiently acquainted with the circumstances.

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/1-corinthians-7.html. 1863-1878.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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