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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Corinthians 7:16

For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

Adam Clarke Commentary

For what knowest thou, O wife - You that are Christians, and who have heathen partners, do not give them up because they are such, for you may become the means of saving them unto eternal life. Bear your cross, and look up to God, and he may give your unbelieving husband or wife to your prayers.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-corinthians-7.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

For what knowest thou … - The apostle here assigns a reason why the believing party should not separate from the other needlessly, or why he should not desire to be separated. The reason is, the possibility, or the probability, that the unbelieving party might be converted by the example and entreaties of the other.

Whether then … - How do you know “but” this may be done? Is there not a possibility, nay a probability of it, and is not this a sufficient reason for continuing together?

Save thy husband - Gain him over to the Christian faith; be the means of his conversion and salvation. compare Romans 11:26. We learn from this verse:

(1) That there is a possibility that an unbelieving partner in life may be converted by the example of the other.

(2) That this should be an object of intense interest to the Christian husband or wife, because:

(a)It will promote the happiness of the other;

(b)It will promote their usefulness;

(c)It will be the means of blessing their family, for parents should be united on the subject of religion, and in their example and influence in training up their sons and daughters; and,

(d)Because the salvation of a beloved husband or wife should be an object of intense interest,

(3) This object is of so much importance that the Christian should be willing to submit to much, to bear much, and to bear long, in order that it may be accomplished. Paul said that it was desirable even to live with a pagan partner to do it; and so also it is desirable to bear much, very much, with even an unkind and fretful temper, with an unfaithful and even an intemperate husband, or with a perverse and peevish wife, if there is a prospect that they may be converted.

(4) this same direction is elsewhere given; 1 Peter 3:1-2.

(5) it is often done. It is not hopeless. Many a wife has thus been the means of saving a husband; many a husband has been the means of the salvation of the wife - In regard to the means by which this is to be hoped for, we may observe that it is not by a harsh, fretful, complaining temper; it is to be by kindness, and tenderness, and love. It is to be by an exemplification of the excellency of religion by example; by patience when provoked, meekness when injured, love when despised, forbearance when words of harshness and irritation are used, and by showing how a Christian can live, and what is the true nature of religion; by kind and affectionate conversation when alone, when the heart is tender, when calamities visit the family, and when the thoughts are drawn along by the events of Providence toward death. Not by harshness or severity of manner, is the result to be hoped for, but by tender entreaty, and mildness of life, and by prayer. Pre eminently this is to be used. When a husband will not hear, God can hear; when he is angry, morose, or unkind, God is gentle, tender, and kind; and when a husband or a wife turn away from the voice of gentle entreaty, God‘s ear is open, and God is ready to hear and to bless. Let one thing guide the life. We are never to cease to set a Christian example; never to cease to live as a Christian should live; never to cease to pray fervently to the God of grace, that the partner of our lives may be brought under the full influence of Christian truth, and meet us in the enjoyments of heaven.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-corinthians-7.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

For how knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O husband, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

Bruce believed that "A mixed marriage of the kind Paul had in mind is fraught with missionary possibility,"[32] indicating that Paul's meaning here is that perhaps the faithful partner might be able to convert the unbeliever. There is another possible meaning of this somewhat ambiguous verse. It could mean, "God's aim for us is peace, which will best be secured by separation; the possibility of saving the heathen partner is, after all, quite uncertain."[33] Morris preferred the latter view, adding that "Marriage is not to be regarded simply as an instrument of evangelism."[34] Despite this, it seems that the first view, advocated by Bruce, is preferable. The principal deterrent to this is the reference to God's having called us to peace (at the end of 1 Corinthians 7:15). It is a known fact that many a marriage with unbelievers has proved to be the means of converting the unbeliever; but Paul certainly did not advocate marriage with such an end in view. This verse concludes Paul's teaching on mixed marriages; and, as always, there is evident in it the most devout and sincere desire for the salvation of people's souls. Everything else is secondary.

[32] F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1972), p. 92.

[33] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 903.

[34] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 111.


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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/1-corinthians-7.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

For what knowest thou, O wife,.... These words may be understood, as containing a reason either why the believing party should be easy at the departure of the unbeliever, after all proper methods have been used in vain to retain him or her; taken from the uncertainty and improbability of being of any use to them, to bring them to the knowledge of Christ, and salvation by him; "for what knowest thou, O wife"; thou dost not know, thou canst not know, thou canst not be sure,

whether thou shall save thy husband? be the means of bringing of him under the means of grace, and so of his conversion and salvation; there is no likelihood of it, since he is such an implacable enemy to Christ, and so bitterly averse to the Gospel, and the ordinances of it; and therefore since he is determined to separate, even let him go: or else, as rendering a reason why the believer should seek for peace and reconciliation, and by all means, if possible, continue to dwell with the unbeliever; taken from hopes of being serviceable under a divine influence and blessing, for their spiritual and eternal good, the wife for the good of the husband; by whose conversation he may be won over, and prevailed upon to entertain a better opinion of the Christian religion; to take a liking to the Gospel, and to attend upon the ministry of the word, which may be made the power of God unto salvation to him:

or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shall save thy wife; this may possibly be done, in the same manner as now suggested: persons in such a relation have often great influence upon one another, and are by divine Providence often great blessings to each other, in things spiritual as well as temporal. This puts me in mind of a case related by the Jewish doctorsF1Bereshit Rabba, sect. 17. fol. 14. 4. :

"it happened to a holy man that he married a holy woman, and they had no children; say they, we are of no manner of profit to the blessed God; they stood up and divorced one another; he went and married a wicked woman, and she made him wicked; she went and married a wicked man, ועשתה אותו צדיק "and she made him righteous";'

or, to use the apostle's phrase, "saved him".


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-corinthians-7.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

What knowest thou but that by staying with thy unbelieving partner thou mayest save him or her? Enforcing the precept to stay with the unbelieving consort (1 Corinthians 7:12-14). So Ruth the Moabitess became a convert to her husband‘s faith: and Joseph and Moses probably gained over their wives. So conversely the unbelieving husband may be won by the believing wife (1 Peter 3:1) [Calvin]. Or else (1 Corinthians 7:15), if thy unbelieving consort wishes to depart, let him go, so that thou mayest live “in peace”: for thou canst not be sure of converting him, so as to make it obligatory on thee at all costs to stay with him against his will [Menochius and Alford].

save — be the instrument of salvation to (James 5:20).


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/1-corinthians-7.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

For how knowest thou? (τι γαρ οιδασti gar oidas̱). But what does Paul mean? Is he giving an argument against the believer accepting divorce or in favour of doing so? The syntax allows either interpretation with ειei (if) after οιδαςoidas Is the idea in ειei (if) hope of saving the other or fear of not saving and hence peril in continuing the slavery of such a bondage? The latter idea probably suits the context best and is adopted by most commentators. And yet one hesitates to interpret Paul as advocating divorce unless strongly insisted on by the unbeliever. There is no problem at all unless the unbeliever makes it. If it is a hopeless case, acquiescence is the only wise solution. But surely the believer ought to be sure that there is no hope before he agrees to break the bond. Paul raises the problem of the wife first as in 1 Corinthians 7:10.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/1-corinthians-7.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

16.For what knowest thou, O woman? Those who are of opinion that this observation is a confirmation of the second department of his statement, expound it thus. “An uncertain hope ought not to detain thee,” etc. But, in my opinion, the exhortation is taken from the advantage to be derived; for it is a great and distinguished blessing if a wife gain (1 Corinthians 9:19) her husband. Now, unbelievers are not in so hopeless a condition but that they may be brought to believe. They are dead, it is true, but God can even raise the dead. So long, therefore, as there remains any hope of doing good, and the pious wife knows not but that she may by her holy conversation (1 Peter 3:1) bring back her husband into the way, (404) she ought to try every means before leaving him; for so long as a man’s salvation is doubtful, it becomes us to be prepared rather to hope the best.

As to his saying, however, that a husband may be saved by his wife, the expression, it is true, is not strictly accurate, as he ascribes to man what belongs to God; but there is no absurdity in it. For as God acts efficaciously by his instruments which he makes use of, he does, in a manner, communicate his power to them, or, at least, he connects it with their service in such a manner, that what he does he speaks of as being done by them, and hence, too, he sometimes ascribes to them the honor which is due to himself alone. Let us, however, bear in mind, that we have nothing in our power, except in so far as we are directed by him as instruments.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/1-corinthians-7.html. 1840-57.

Scofield's Reference Notes

save

(See Scofield "Romans 1:16").


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These files are considered public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available in the Online Bible Software Library.

Bibliography
Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on 1 Corinthians 7:16". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/1-corinthians-7.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

Ver. 16. Whether thou shalt save] And to have any hand in saving a soul is the highest honour.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-corinthians-7.html. 1865-1868.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

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.


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Bibliography
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/1-corinthians-7.html. 1863-1878.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 1960

THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY RELIGION

1 Corinthians 7:16. What knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

WE, who live under laws generally known and acknowledged, have little conception what difficulties arose to the Church in the apostolic age, from the licentious habits of many upon their first conversion to Christianity. Those who had been brought up as heathens saw no evil in concubinage: and those who had been educated as Jews imagined that they were still at liberty to put away those with whom they had been united in the bonds of matrimony. In some respects, the very habits and ordinances of pious men amongst the Jews tended to confirm the Christian converts in their errors. They were not aware, that some things were tolerated among the Jews, and, on some particular occasions, even enjoined, which yet were positively forbidden by the Christian code. It will be remembered, that, after the Babylonish Captivity, many of the Jews who had returned to Canaan “took wives of the people of the land,” and thereby greatly provoked the Lord to anger. On that occasion, Ezra commanded all of them to put away their wives and children [Note: Ezra 9:2-4; Ezra 10:2; Ezra 10:10-11; Ezra 10:44.]. Hence, when persons had been converted to Christianity, a doubt arose in their minds, whether they were not bound, or at least authorised, to separate themselves from their unbelieving partners. This case had been stated to the Apostle, for his opinion respecting it: and he, by God’s special command, forbad any such measure. Even if a person, being a Christian, had so far forgot his duty to God as to connect himself in marriage with an unconverted person, he was not at liberty to divorce her from him; but he must exert himself to the uttermost to effect the conversion of his unbelieving partner. This was the line prescribed equally to all, whether men or women: and agreeably to that rule they were all bound to conduct themselves, whatever difficulties might lie in their way.

The words thus explained will lead me to shew you,

I. The duty of persons in wedded life—

Persons once brought into a marriage union should from thenceforth live, as it were, altogether for each other, even as the Lord Jesus Christ is incessantly occupied in promoting the welfare of his Church: and, as the Church is ever seeking to advance the honour of her divine Head, each should seek continually the other’s salvation—

[If there be a oneness of sentiment between the parties, this will be easy. But whatever diversity of sentiment there may be between them, the duty is still the same; and it should be performed with unremitting diligence. It is not to be supposed that such unions will often be found, as existed frequently in the primitive Church, when, through the conversion of one party to the Christian faith, light and darkness, Christ and Belial, a believer and an infidel, were joined together. But between Christians, as converted to Christ or yet in a state of unregeneracy, there is scarcely a less difference than between persons of different religions. And this difference exists to a great extent wherever the Gospel is preached in sincerity and truth; and the duty of each party is then precisely the same as that which bound the converts from Judaism or idolatry to their unconverted partners. The utmost possible forbearance was to be exercised towards the person who was yet under the power of heathen darkness or Jewish superstition: and so should it be towards one who is yet in bondage to the world; and who, perhaps, is irritated and enraged at the change that has been wrought in the mind of his dearest companion. Great allowance should be made for him. We must not expect him to see with our eyes: and, if he express grief or vexation at our conduct, we must consider how we should have felt, if the change had been wrought in him, and we had yet continued under our former blindness. Grateful to God for the mercy vouchsafed to us, we should implore the same in his behalf: yea, we should “labour earnestly in prayer for him night and day,” that God may open his eyes, and impart to him the salvation which we have experienced. We should remember, that the change has been wrought in us; and that therefore there is, so to speak, a ground for complaint on his side, who still retains his former sentiments and habits: and we must be prepared to endure unkindness from him, on whom we have inflicted so deep a wound. We must possess our souls in patience; and labour, by meekness and by love, to win him, whose heart has never submitted to the preached word [Note: 1 Peter 3:1.].]

To this the most distant prospect of success should be a sufficient inducement—

[Whatever the state of our partner may be, God is able to effect a change: “there is nothing impossible with him:” he can “quicken the dead,” and “call forth into existence that which had no being.” And great beyond conception is the power of prayer. The person that continues instant in prayer is almost sure to succeed at last. And what if success should be granted, even though it were after years of suffering and of supplication? would not that be a very abundant recompence for all? Yes: years of labour would be well repaid by such an issue. And how knowest thou, O husband, or O wife, whether this shall not be the issue of thy prayers? How knowest thou, whether thou shalt not be the happy instrument of saving thine unbelieving partner? Surely a mere possibility of such an event should be sufficient to call forth our utmost endeavours; and we should with patient perseverance hold on to the end, “instructing in meekness him that opposes us, if God peradventure may give him repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and he may at last recover himself out of the snare of the devil, by whom he has been led captive at his will [Note: 2 Timothy 2:25-26.].”]

But the questions need not be restricted to those in wedded life: they shew us equally,

II. The duty of persons, in whatever relation they may stand to each other—

Manifold are the relations of civil and social life; and in all of them, the same concern for the salvation of others becomes us. Such is our duty,

1. In our own families—

[A person at the head of a family should consider all under his roof as committed to his care, to be brought up for God. It was said by God himself, with special approbation, respecting Abraham, “I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, that they shall keep the way of the Lord [Note: Genesis 18:19.].” The same attention will he approve in us also: and the more we know of the evil of the heart, and of the danger of dying in an unconverted state, the more earnest should we be in the performance of this duty. And what if we be successful in one single instance; will it not richly repay all the labour we can bestow on this good work? Even as it respects this present life, what a bond of union exists between a man and his spiritual offspring! What sweet counsel they take with each other, when going to the house of God as friends, or in the more retired intercourse of domestic life! But, if we take eternity into the account, what shall we then say? Think of saving an immortal soul! What an honour! what a joy! O cease not, any of you, from this good work; but go on steadily, with much patience, much forbearance, much earnestness, if by any means you may be honoured with “turning one soul from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God.”]

2. In the Church of God—

[The Church is one great family; amongst whom there is yet very ample occasion for mutual forbearance, and for mutual aid. All who believe in Christ are, in fact, one body; and every member should take a deep interest in the welfare of the whole. It is to be lamented, that, even in the apostolic age, there were divisions and bitter animosities amongst those who ought to have been united in the bonds of brotherly affection: and so it is at this time. Many, because of a diversity of sentiment on some points, and frequently on points of inferior importance, are really separated from one another more widely than from the unconverted world. But such a disposition ill becomes the family of which Christ is the Head. We should all have but one object in view; and labour with incessant care so to watch over each other: and we should “become all things to all men, if by any means we may save some [Note: 1 Corinthians 9:20-22.]” — — —]

3. In the world at large—

[Wherever there is an immortal soul, there should be an object of our care and love. We should not ask, in reference to any human being, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” We all have a debt of love, which we should be paying to every child of man. Especially should we be concerned for the salvation of their souls, and be using all the means in our power to advance it. The unconverted heathen, the unbelieving Jew, and the scoffing infidel, should be objects of our tenderest compassion, as should also be the careless and ungodly all around us; and, both by secret prayer and benevolent efforts, of whatever kind, we should seek their salvation. And what if we be the means of saving one single soul? Verily I say to you, that we shall cause all heaven to rejoice: for “there is joy among the angels in the presence of God over one sinner that repenteth.” Know ye this, brethren; “know, that whoso converteth a sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins [Note: James 5:19-20.].” Shall not such a prospect stimulate us to exertion? You will say, you are not sure to succeed in your efforts. True: but are you sure that you shall not succeed? “How knowest thou, O man,” what God shall be pleased to effect by thy means? Thou mayest be among the weakest of the people; yet that should not discourage thee: for God delights to honour those who honour him; and “he will perfect his own strength in thy weakness.” But, at all events, if we should fail in doing good to others, shall none accrue to ourselves? This cannot be: for “God will reward every man according to his own labour [Note: 1 Corinthians 3:8.];” and he who “watered others, shall be watered also himself.”]


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Bibliography
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/1-corinthians-7.html. 1832.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

1 Corinthians 7:16. Confirmation of the foregoing thought, that the Christian is not bound in such cases, but, on the contrary, ought, in accordance with his vocation, to live in peace; for neither does the (Christian) wife know whether she, by continuing to live with her (non-believing) husband, shall be the means of his conversion, nor does the (Christian) husband know, etc. This uncertainty cannot be the basis of any constraint to the hurt of their peace. Comp de Wette, Osiander, Neander, Ewald, Maier, Hofmann. Most expositors, on the other hand, from Chrysostom downwards, take εἰ in the sense of εἰ μή (see also Tholuck, Bergpredig. p. 251 f.), and hold that 1 Corinthians 7:16 enunciates a new reason for not breaking up the marriage, namely, the possibility of the conversion of the non-believing husband. ἀνάδεξαί φησιν ἐπὶ χρησταῖς ἐλπίσι τὸν πόνον· ἔχεις τὸν θεὸν τῆς προθυμίας ἐπίκουρον, Theodoret. That is to say, they find in ἐν δὲ εἰρήνῃ κ. τ. λ(1140) the thought: yet the Christian partner should do everything to maintain peace and bear with the heathen consort,—and either link to this the new reason given in 1 Corinthians 7:16 (Flatt, Rückert, Olshausen, following Calvin and others), or else regard 1 Corinthians 7:15 as a parenthesis (Grotius, al(1141)). But the parenthetic setting aside of 1 Corinthians 7:15 is as arbitrary as the turn given to the idea of ἐν δὲ εἰρήνῃ κ. τ. λ(1142) is contrary to the context. With respect again to taking εἰ as equivalent to εἰ μή, it is perfectly true that εἰ, following upon the notion of uncertainty, may answer in meaning to εἰ μή) Thuc. ii. 53. 2; Krüger, § lxv. 1. 8; Esther 4:14; 2 Samuel 12:22; Joel 2:14; Jonah 3:9); but the thought which would thus emerge does not suit the connection here, because in it the point is the οὐ δεδούλωται, to which the proposed rendering of the εἰ would run counter.(1143) Moreover, this use of εἰ is foreign to the N. T., often though it occurs in the classics (see especially Kühner, a(1144) Xen. Mem. i. 1. 8, Anab. iii. 2. 22).

τί] precisely as the German: “was weisst du, ob,” etc., so that in sense it is the same as: how, in how far (Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 823); it is not therefore the accusative of the, object. Comp τὶ οἴει, τὶ δοκεῖς, Xen. Hier. i. 15. Regarding the future σώσεις, comp Stallbaum, a(1147) Gorg. p. 249; Klotz, a(1148) Devar. p. 508.


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Bibliography
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/1-corinthians-7.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

1 Corinthians 7:16. τί γὰρ, for what) Therefore thou oughtest not to distress thyself too anxiously; but to preserve the tranquillity of thy mind, exertions must be made according to the measure of hope.— ἄνδραγυναῖκα, husband, wife) averse from thee, and therefore from the faith.— σώσεις, thou shalt save) The one consort ought to lead, as far as possible, the other consort to salvation.


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Bibliography
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/1-corinthians-7.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The apostle having before determined the lawfulness of a Christian husband’s or wife’s abiding in a state of marriage with a wife or husband that was an infidel, if she or he were willing to abide with the believer, now argues the great advantage which might be from it, for the glory of God, and the good of the soul of such husband or wife.

What knowest thou, O wife? saith he; it is not certain that God will so far bless thy converse with thy husband or wife, as that thou shalt, by thy instruction, admonition, or example, be an occasion or instrument to bring them to Christ; but it is neither impossible nor improbable, and their willingness (notwithstanding their difference from thee in religion) yet to abide with thee, may give thee some hopes that they will hearken to thee. They are often (in the language of holy writ) said to save others, who are instrumental to bring them to Christ, 1 Corinthians 9:22 1 Timothy 4:16 James 5:20. We ought to bear with many inconveniences to ourselves, where our bearing with them may any way promote the glory of God or the good of souls.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-corinthians-7.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

For what knowest thou; another argument why the believing party should continue to live with the unbelieving. The Christian party may be instrumental in saving the other.


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Bibliography
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". "Family Bible New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/1-corinthians-7.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

16. τί γὰρ οἶδας. Until the 14th century the meaning of this passage was supposed to be that the believing partner was to remain with the unbeliever, in hope of bringing about his conversion. See 1 Peter 3:1. But Lyra then pointed out that the opposite view was more agreeable to the context. The preceding verse recommends departure, and the following verse, beginning with a qualifying particle ‘but’ or more literally except, only, seems to imply that the advice in 1 Corinthians 7:15-16 was to be looked upon as referring to a particular case and was not to be tortured into a general rule. For the insisting on marriage rights when the unbelieving party to the contract was desirous of dissolving it was an attempt at compulsion which was undesirable in itself, and might not, after all, be followed by the salvation of the unbeliever. Dean Stanley remarks on the influence of the earlier interpretation upon history in such marriages as that of Clotilda with Clovis and of Bertha with Ethelbert of Kent.


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Bibliography
"Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/1-corinthians-7.html. 1896.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

16. For—Assigning as a reason for peace.

Whether—The Greek word usually means simply if. And as there is no negative so as to make if not, so Stanley, Alford, and others make the apostle ask, How knowest thou that thou wilt convert the infidel party? And then the question gives a reason to let the party go without interposing any legal obstacle. Let him go, for you know not that you shall convert him. We reject this view. For, 1. The not is not necessary in order to indicate that a question implies an affirmative hope. Dr. Hodge rightly quotes 2 Samuel 12:22; Joel 2:14; Jonah 3:9. Take the first passage. David fasted and prayed in the hope of his child’s life being spared, asking, “Who can tell if the Lord will be gracious, that the child may live?” Thus David conducts, as Paul would have the married Christian conduct, in the hope expressed by the interrogative if, that a favourable issue might result. 2. The meaning given by Alford is very un-Pauline. It makes Paul, by emphatic repetition, very earnest to expel the hope of saving a soul, and very earnest to prevent action for that purpose! The Christian could not, indeed, know that the opposite party would be converted, and it would be very superfluous for Paul to so inform him. But there often might be a hope; and it would be very unlike Paul to deny that such a hope should be a ground of action to save a wife or husband from infidelity, sin, and death. To act from such hopes, where he did not know a favourable result, was one of the fundamental purposes of Paul’s life.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-corinthians-7.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Beet's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

1 Corinthians 7:16. A negative reason for the foregoing advice.

Thou will save: 1 Corinthians 9:22; see Romans 11:14.

Whether etc.: same phrase in LXX. as a ground of hope and motive for action, in Esther, Esther 4:14; 2 Samuel 12:22; Joel 2:14; Jonah 3:9. But that here it supports the foregoing permission to separate, is proved by 1 Corinthians 7:17 a, which gives an injunction not to change one's position as an exception to the principle defended in 1 Corinthians 7:16. If it were certain that the enforced presence of the Christian would save the heathen consort, this certainty would justify the spiritual risk of the continued connection. But it was far from certain; and therefore not worth the risk involved. And separation did not imply an abandonment of any suitable efforts to save the separated one.


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Bibliography
Beet, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". Joseph Beet's Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jbc/1-corinthians-7.html. 1877-90.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

It is possible that Paul meant Christians should not separate from their unbelieving spouses because by staying together the unbeliever may eventually become a Christian (cf. 1 Peter 3:1). [Note: Barrett, p167.] He may have meant the believer should not oppose the unbeliever"s departing because he may become a Christian through channels other than the witness of the believing spouse. Both possibilities are realistic so even though we cannot tell exactly what the apostle meant here, what we should do is clear. The Christian can have hope that God may bring the unsaved spouse to salvation while the believer does the Lord"s will.

1 Corinthians 7:16 is a positive note on which to close instructions to Christians who have unsaved spouses.


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-corinthians-7.html. 2012.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

1 Corinthians 7:16 follows up the appeal to Christian principle, by a challenge addressed in turn to the wifely and the manly heart: “(Keep the peace, if you can, with the unconverted spouse), for how do you know, O wife, that you will not save your husband? or how do you know, O husband, that you will not save your wife? “That εἰ in this connexion (see parls.), after τί οἶδας implying a fear, may mean “that … not” in English idiom (as though it were: “How do you know? it may be you will save, etc.!”) is admitted by Hn(1056) and Ed(1057), though they reject the above interpretation, which is that of the ancient commentt. from Cm(1058) down to Lyra, of Cv(1059) and Bz(1060), and of Ev(1061) and Lt(1062) amongst moderns: see the convincing notes of the two last-named; “Confirmatio est superioris sententiæ: non cur discedente infideli liberetur fidelis; sed contra, cur ita sit utendum hac libertate, ut infidelem, si fieri potest, retineat fidelis ac Christo lucrificet” (Bz(1063)).— τί οἶδας; connotes “not the manner in which the knowledge is to be obtained, but the extent of it” (Ed(1064))—“what do you know as to the question whether, etc.?”

The above sentences are curiously ambiguous; taken by themselves, they may be read as reasons either against or for separation. The latter interpretation is adopted, as to 1 Corinthians 7:15 b by most, and as to 1 Corinthians 7:16 by nearly all execent exegetes (including Bg(1065), Mr(1066), Hf(1067), Hn(1068), Al(1069), Bt(1070), Ed(1071), Gd(1072), El(1073)): “God has called us in peace (and peace is only possible through separation); for how do you know, wife or husband, that you will save the other?” As much as to say, “Why cling to him, or her, on so ill-founded a hope?” Grammatical considerations being fairly balanced, the tenor of the previous context determines the Apostle’s meaning. In the favourite modern exposition, the essential thought has to be read between the lines. It should also be observed that the Cor(1074), with their lax moral notions, needed dissuasives from rather than encouragements to divorce; and on the other hand, that to discountenance the hope of a soul’s salvation is strangely unlike the Ap. (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:33). On the construction here adopted, P. returns at the close of the Section to the thought with which it opened— μὴ χωρισθῆναι.


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Bibliography
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/1-corinthians-7.html. 1897-1910.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

1 Corinthians 7:16 For how knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? Or how knowest thou, O husband, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

"For how knowest thou"-"For how do you know" (NASV). "This verse has been used as a reason to keep the marriage going and as a reason to let it go." (McGuiggan p. 109) Paul is saying either: (1) The reason to keep the marriage together and not leave, is that you may just convert your unbelieving mate. (2) Let the determined unbeliever depart, make it peaceful on your part, because a refusing to let them leave, making it very difficult upon them, or compromising your Christianity in the misguided hope that such will enable you can keep them, and eventually save them..is based on an uncertain hope. There are no assurances that your mate would of ever obeyed the gospel, no matter how hard you would of tried, or how many spiritual compromises you would have made.

Actually a third view is possible. Paul may be saying, "Don"t compromise your faith, and don"t act ungodly during the divorce, let is happen, live in peace, because in the end, you might just save them, i.e. because of your stand for truth and in demonstrating godly attitudes during the worst of times, they might just come back, and convert to Christianity. If this view is correct, or if view number (2) is correct, then this verse offers one more proof that "not under bondage" of doesn"t refer to the marriage bond. For the unbelieving mate, the person one isn"t in bondage to, is still called by the terms "thy husband" and " thy wife", i.e. the marriage is still in tact in the eyes of God.


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Bibliography
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/1-corinthians-7.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

knowest. App-132.

whether = if. App-118.

man = husband, as above. Here are the Figures of speech Antimetathesis and Apostrophe. App-6.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-corinthians-7.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

By staying with thy unbelieving partner thou mayest save him or her. Enforcing "peace" with the unbelieving consort (1 Corinthians 7:15, end). So Ruth the Moabitess became a convert to her husband's faith: Joseph and Moses probably gained over their wives. Conversely, the unbelieving husband may be won by the believing wife (1 Peter 3:1). Alford explains 1 Corinthians 7:15, 'If thy unbelieving consort wishes to depart, let him go, that thou mayest live "in peace:" for thou canst not be sure of converting him, so as to make it obligatory on thee at all costs to keep him against his will.'

Save - be the instrument of saving (James 5:20).


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-corinthians-7.html. 1871-8.

The Bible Study New Testament

How can you be sure? Be kind, gentle, loving, and you may bring your unbelieving wife or husband to Christ. Compare 1 Peter 3:1-2.


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Bibliography
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". "The Bible Study New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/1-corinthians-7.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(16) For what knowest thou, O wife . . .?—This verse has been very generally regarded as a kind of modification of the previous one, as if the Apostle suggested that it might be advisable not to let the unbelieving partner depart from the marriage union when he so desired, in any case where there was even a chance of the believing partner effecting his or her conversion. The true meaning of the passage is, however, precisely the opposite. The Apostle declares that the remote contingency of the unbeliever’s conversion is too vague a matter for which to risk the peace which is so essential an element in the Christian life. If the unbelieving partner will depart, do not let any thought as to the possible influence you may exercise over his religious convictions—about which you cannot know anything, but only at most vaguely speculate—cause you to insist upon his remaining.

Some historical results, arising from the view that this is a suggestion of the good which may result from such union being continued, are interestingly alluded to by Stanley in his note on this passage:—“This passage, thus interpreted, probably had a direct influence on the marriage of Clotilda with Clovis, and Bertha with Ethelbert, and consequently on the subsequent conversion of the two great kingdoms of France and England to the Christian faith.”


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-corinthians-7.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?
O wife
9:22; Proverbs 11:30; Luke 15:10; 1 Timothy 4:16; James 5:19,20; 1 Peter 3:1,2
how
Gr. what.

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-corinthians-7.html.

Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians

For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save (thy) husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save (thy) wife?

The meaning of this verse depends on the interpretation given to the preceding. If Paul there said, ‘Your call to live in peace forbids the continuance of the marriage relation with an unwilling husband or wife;' then this verse must give a further reason why (supposing one of the parties to be unwilling) such marriages should not be continued. That reason is, the utter uncertainty of any spiritual good flowing from them. ‘Why persist in keeping up the connection, when, O wife, you know not whether you can save your husband?' If, however, the common interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7:15 be adopted, then the meaning is, ‘Live in peace if possible, for how knowest thou whether thou shalt not save my husband?' etc. We have here, therefore, an additional reason for avoiding separation in the case supposed. Compare 2 Samuel 12:22; Joel 2:14; Jonah 3:9 in the Septuagint, where the phrase פי ́Ϛ ןי ̔͂ הום וי ̓, who knows if, is used to express hope. So here the idea is, ‘Who knows, O wife, but that thou shalt save thy husband?'


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Bibliography
Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hdg/1-corinthians-7.html.

: For how knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? Or how knowest thou, O husband, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

Two lessons come from this verse. A Christian should be persistent in staying married and being a good example to their unsaved partner (one never knows if an unsaved mate or anyone else will become a Christian through our influence). Stated another way, "marriage can be a means to evangelize an unsaved spouse." Nagging and begging hardly ever work in converting someone, especially in a marriage. Peter ( 1 Peter 3:1) spoke of wives winning disobedient husbands "without a word." If we are married to an unbeliever, our job is to "sow the seed" ( Mark 4:14), even if the ground seems "hard and rocky" ( Mark 4:15-16). Faithfulness and persistence in the gospel are a Christian's best hope at converting a spouse.

Also, a Christian should not make concessions or accept compromises regarding their commitment to God (they are "not under bondage" to do this, verse15). Most preachers have seen instances where a Christian modified his faith or lessened his convictions to accommodate an unsaved mate. For instance, a Christian attends services less often, avoids special church functions, neglects personal Bible study, and God is no longer the first priority in life. Making such concessions are not only wrong, they can actually deter an unbelieving mate from becoming a Christian. If Christians are willing to die for their faith ( Revelation 2:10), they also need to be willing to live for it, especially if their mate is unsaved. God's people need to "bear their cross daily" ( Luke 9:23).


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Bibliography
Price, Brad "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:16". "Living By Faith: Commentary on Romans". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bpc/1-corinthians-7.html.

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