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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Corinthians 7:17

Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And so I direct in all the churches.

Adam Clarke Commentary

But as God hath distributed to every man, etc. - Let every man fulfill the duties of the state to which God in the course of his providence has called him.

So ordain I in all Churches - I do not lay on you a burden which others are not called to bear: this is the general rule which, by the authority of God, I impose on every Christian society.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-corinthians-7.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

But as God hath distributed … - As God hath divided ( ἐμέρισεν emerisen); that is, given, imparted to anyone. As God has given grace to everyone. The words εἰ μὴ ei mēdenote simply but in the beginning of this verse. The apostle here introduces a new subject; or an inquiry varying somewhat from that preceding, though of the same general nature. He had discussed the question whether a husband and wife ought to be separated on account of a difference in religion. He now says that the general principle there stated ought to rule everywhere; that people who become Christians ought not to seek to change their condition or calling in life, but to remain in that situation in which they were when they became Christians, and show the excellence of their religion in that particular calling. The object of Paul, therefore, is to preserve order, industry, faithfulness in the relations of life, and to show that Christianity does not design to break up the relations of social and domestic contact. This discussion continues to 1 Corinthians 7:24. The phrase “as God hath distributed” refers to the condition in which people are placed in life, whether as rich or poor, in a state of freedom or servitude, of learning or ignorance, etc. And it implies that God appoints the lot of people, and orders the circumstances of their condition; that religion is not designed to interfere directly with this; and that people should seek to show the real excellence of religion in the particular sphere in which they may have been placed by divine providence before they became converted.

As the Lord hath called everyone - That is, in the condition or circumstances in which anyone is when he is called by the Lord to be a Christian.

So let him walk - In that sphere of life; in that calling 1 Corinthians 7:20; in that particular relation in which he was, let him remain, unless he can consistently change it for the better, and there let him illustrate the true beauty and excellence of religion. This was designed to counteract the notion that the fact of embracing a new religion dissolved the relations of life which existed before. This idea probably prevailed extensively among the Jews. Paul‘s object is to show that the gospel, instead of dissolving those relations, only strengthened them, and enabled those who were converted the better to discharge the duties which grow out of them.

And so ordain I … - This is no unique rule for you Corinthians. It is the universal rule which I everywhere inculcated. It is not improbable that there was occasion to insist everywhere on this rule, and to repress disorders which might have been attempted by some who might suppose that Christianity dissolved the former obligations of life.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-corinthians-7.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Only, as the Lord hath distributed to each man, as God hath called each, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

The problem of the innocent party in a mixed marriage disposed of, Paul here made a digression to legislate in the power of the Holy Spirit on the larger question behind it, that greater question deriving from an error being advocated at Corinth by certain false teachers. "The Judaizers taught that, by embracing the true religion, all former obligations under which the convert lay were dissolved."[35] Any widespread acceptance of such an error would have resulted in social chaos and precipitated even more savage and relentless persecutions against the church; therefore, for both practical and ethical reasons the error had to be struck down.

As the Lord hath distributed to each man ... refers to the status of each man in the fabric of the social order, some being wealthy, others poor, some free, others slaves, etc.

As God hath called each, so let him walk ... Accepting the gospel did not change prior conditions and obligations of the convert in any legal sense, despite the fact that the holy principles of Christianity were inherently charged with power to destroy many shameful institutions in the pagan society. "The gospel, instead of weakening any moral or just political obligation, strengthened them all."[36]

[35] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 108.

[36] Ibid.


Copyright Statement
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 7:17". "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

But as God hath distributed to every man,.... This text is so placed, and the words of it so expressed, as that it may have regard both to what goes before, and follows after; it may have respect to every man's proper gift, whether of continence, or of disposition to marriage, which every man has of God, 1 Corinthians 7:7, and accordingly ought to live in a single, or in a married state; or it may refer to the last verse,

what knowest thou, &c. and ει μη, which we render "but", be translated either "unless"; and then the sense is, thou knowest not, O man or woman, whether thou shalt save thy wife or husband, nor any other, unless God, who distributes his, grace to everyone as he pleases; or else it may be rendered if "not", and the sense be, if thou shouldst not save thy husband, or thou, man, shouldst not save thy wife; yet "as God hath distributed to every man" his own proper gift, both as to nature and grace; his proper sphere of usefulness, and the station in which he would have him be, and the place he would have him fill up, and the business he must do in life; so let him act, and

as the Lord hath called everyone; which is to be understood of that particular station of life, and those circumstances of it, in which men are providentially placed by God, or are found in when he calls them by his grace; as whether married or unmarried; whether joined to a believer or an unbeliever; whether circumcised or uncircumcised; whether bond or free; a servant or a master; and so may refer to what follows, as well as to what goes before:

so let him walk; contented with his station and kind of life, agreeably to the profession he makes of the Gospel, doing all the good he can to those he is concerned with:

and so ordain I in all churches; the decisions and determinations he had made, in the cases proposed to him about marriage, the rules and orders he had prescribed, what he had given out by way of precept or permission, by command or counsel, or what he was about to deliver, were no other than what he in common enjoined other churches; and therefore they ought not to think that they were used with more strictness and severity than others; and might be induced hereby to attend to what was advised or enjoined, since it was what was common to all the churches.


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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 7:17". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-corinthians-7.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

12 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath n called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

(12) Taking occasion by that which he said of the bondage and liberty of matrimony, he digresses to a general doctrine concerning the outward state and condition of man's life, as circumcision and uncircumcision, servitude and liberty. And he warns every man generally to live with a contented mind in the Lord, whatever state or condition he is in, because those outward things, as to be circumcised or uncircumcised, to be bond or free, are not of the substance (as they call it) of the kingdom of heaven.

(n) Has bound him to a certain type of life.


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/1-corinthians-7.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

ButGreek, “If not.” “Only.” Caution that believers should not make this direction (1 Corinthians 7:16; as Alford explains it) a ground for separating “of themselves” (1 Corinthians 7:12-14). Or, But if there be no hope of gaining over the unbeliever, still let the general principle be maintained, “As the Lord hath allotted to each, as God hath called each, so let him walk” (so the Greek in the oldest reading); let him walk in the path allotted to him and wherein he was called. The heavenly calling does not set aside our earthly callings.

so ordain I in all churches — Ye also therefore should obey.


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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 7:17". "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

Only (ει μηei mē). This use of ει μηei mē as an elliptical condition is very common (1 Corinthians 7:5; Galatians 1:7, Galatians 1:19; Romans 14:14), “except that” like πληνplēn Paul gives a general principle as a limitation to what he has just said in 1 Corinthians 7:15. “It states the general principle which determines these questions about marriage, and this is afterwards illustrated by the cases of circumcision and slavery” (Robertson and Plummer). He has said that there is to be no compulsory slavery between the believer and the disbeliever (the Christian and the pagan). But on the other hand there is to be no reckless abuse of this liberty, no license.

As the Lord hath distributed to each man (εκαστωι ως μεμερικεν ο κυριοςhekastōi hōs memeriken ho kurios). Perfect active indicative of μεριζωmerizō old verb from μεροςmeros apart. Each has his lot from the Lord Jesus, has his call from God. He is not to seek a rupture of the marriage relation if the unbeliever does not ask for it.

And so ordain I (και ουτως διατασσομαιkai houtōs diatassomai). Military term, old word, to arrange in all the churches (distributed, διαdiȧ). Paul is conscious of authoritative leadership as the apostle of Christ to the Gentiles.


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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 7:17". "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.

Vincent's Word Studies

But ( εἰ μὴ )

Rev., only. Introducing a limitation to the statement in 1 Corinthians 7:15. There is to be no enslavement, only, to give no excuse for the reckless abuse of this general principle, the normal rule of Christian life is that each one should seek to abide in the position in which God has placed him.

Ordain ( διατάσσομαι )

See on Matthew 11:1.


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Bibliography
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/1-corinthians-7.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

But as God hath distributed — The various stations of life, and various relations, to every one, let him take care to discharge his duty therein. The gospel disannuls none of these.

And thus I ordain in all the churches — As a point of the highest concern.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-corinthians-7.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Hath distributed to every man; hath given him his lot.


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Bibliography
Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/1-corinthians-7.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

17.Unless every one, according as God has dispensed his grace, etc. Such is the literal meaning: only I have in my rendering made use of the nominative, (405) in order that the connection may be more easy and natural. The meaning is: “What, then, is to be done, unless (406) that every one walk according to the grace given to him, and according to his calling? Let every one, therefore, labor for this, and use his endeavor, that he may do good to his neighbors, and, more especially, when he ought to be excited to it by the particular duty of his calling.” He mentions two things — the calling, and the measure of grace These he desires us to look to in deliberating as to this matter; as it ought to be no small stimulus to us to duty, that God condescends to make us ministers of his grace for the salvation of our brethren; while the calling, on the other hand, should hold us, as it were, under God’s yoke, even where an individual feels his situation to be an unpleasant one.

And so in all the Churches. I am of opinion that he added this, with the view of obviating the calumnies of some who boasted that he assumed more authority over the Corinthians than he ventured to do over others. At the same time he might have also another end in view — that this doctrine might have the more weight, when the Corinthians understood that it was already published in all the Churches. For we embrace the more readily what we understand that we have in common with all the pious. The Corinthians, on the other hand, would have felt it hateful to be bound more closely than others.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/1-corinthians-7.html. 1840-57.

Vv. 17. "Save this, that as the Lord hath distributed to every man, as God hath called every one, so let him walk; and so ordain I in all the Churches."

The particle εἰ μή, unless, or, if it is not so, has been explained in a multitude of ways. Some have connected it with the preceding verse, in this sense: "What knowest thou whether thou shalt save thy wife, or not?" But there would have been needed at least ἢ εἰ μή, or better, ἢ μή; and it is certainly from this that there has arisen the reading ἢ μή, or not, which is followed by Chrysostom and others, but which has no authorities in its favour. Besides, why not add this or not also to the first question? (de Wette). This addition, finally, would be most superfluous. Rückert would be disposed to make εἰ μή (supplying σώσεις, thou shalt save) a new proposition: "But if thou knowest not whether thou shalt save thy wife, here in any case is the rule to be followed." This meaning would be admissible, but an adversative particle would have been indispensable. Beza takes εἰ μή in the sense of ἀλλά, but, which cannot be supported grammatically.

Already by the words ἐν τοῖς τοιούτοις, in such things, the apostle had betrayed his intention of extending the treatment of the question proposed to other analogous subjects. This transition is indicated by the particle εἰ μή, unless that, which marks his return to the general rule from which he had been forced to deviate in the exceptional case treated, 1 Corinthians 7:15-16. The principle, on which rested the two directions given to spouses, 1 Corinthians 7:10-14, was to remain as Christians in the situation where marriage had previously placed them. After the exception to this rule which he authorized, 1 Corinthians 7:15-16, the apostle returns, by the particle, unless that, or, saving the case that, to the line of conduct indicated in the outset, and which he now states in a perfectly general way in 1 Corinthians 7:17 : every believer ought to remain in the earthly situation in which the call to salvation found him. This is the meaning held by most modern interpreters (de Wette, Osiander, Meyer, Hofmann, etc.).

The authority of the Mjj. hardly allows us to admit the received reading, according to which the subject of the first clause is ὁ θεός, God, and that of the second, ὁ κύριος, the Lord, evidently Jesus Christ; comp. 1 Corinthians 8:6. This reading is, however, the most natural, for in the first proposition the subject in question is external circumstances over which God presides, and in the second the calling to salvation which is undoubtedly often ascribed to God, but which may also be attributed to Christ. Hofmann, too, prefers this reading to that of the majority of the Mjj., which reverses the order of the two subjects. With this last reading it must be held that Christ is regarded here as directing from the midst of His glory the course of things on the earth. For it does not seem to me possible to apply, as Reiche and Heinrici do, the verb ἐμέρισεν, has distributed ( μεμέρικεν, of א B, is probably a correction after κέκληκεν), to the share of spiritual graces bestowed on each believer. The assigned portion in which each should continue can only be, according to the context, the circumstances, analogous to the state of Christian or mixed marriage, in which the believer was providentially placed at the time of his conversion: "The position in which thou didst hear and receive the Divine call is also that in which thou shouldest continue to live" ( περιπατεῖν, to walk). A situation which could not prevent salvation from being realized in us, will not be incompatible with life in salvation.

The two everys are, by a strong inversion, placed before the conjunction which begins the proposition to which they belong. Thereby the apostle would emphasize the idea that there are as many particular positions as individuals called, and that each of them is their Divinely distributed lot which they ought not to change at will.

But Paul would not have it thought at Corinth that the principle here laid down is invented by him with a view to some present and special application which he contemplates within that Church. As to the rule, he lays it down in all the Churches founded by him, whose conduct amid such delicate questions he is called to direct. The word διατάσσομαι, I ordain, contains two ideas: that of a summary decision ( διά), and that of apostolical competency (the middle, τάσσομαι, I regulate in my sphere). — The word all must of course be limited to the Churches dependent on his apostleship; comp. 1 Corinthians 14:37. The rule laid down in this verse is therefore this: the calling to the gospel ought not to be a reason with the believer for changing his outward situation. This principle well shows with what a conviction of its victorious power the gospel made its entrance into the world. It did not fear to confront any earthly position, lawful in itself; but it faced them all with the certainty of being able to penetrate and sanctify them by its spirit. As Edwards says: "The gospel introduces the principle of order as limiting that of liberty in the present life. It does not make slaves of us, but it does not plunge us into anarchy. It is not despotic; but neither is it revolutionary."

The apostle cites and deals with two examples: the state of circumcision or uncircumcision, and that of slavery or freedom.


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Bibliography
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsc/1-corinthians-7.html.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

Ver. 17. But God hath distributed] In case you should not save your yoke fellow, yet keep your station, be content with your condition, and adorn it, 1 Peter 3:1-2. It is the duty of a Christian (said Luther) to believe things invisible, to hope for things deferred, and to love God when he shows himself contrary to us.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-corinthians-7.html. 1865-1868.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

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.


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Bibliography
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/1-corinthians-7.html. 1863-1878.

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

1 Corinthians 7:17. εἰ μή] is meant, according to Grotius, to introduce an exception from the τὶ οἶδας: “Illud quidem, quod dixi, non scis,. sed hoc debes scire;” or, more exactly, since εἰ μή is not the same as ἀλλά (see on Galatians 1:7): Nothing but the duty dost thou know, etc. Comp my 3d edition. But this mode of joining on the verse is very harsh and forced in itself, and is, besides, unsuitable for this reason, that 1 Corinthians 7:16 was only a subordinate thought, to which εἰ ΄ὴ κ. τ. λ(1150) as a newly introduced leading idea stands in no logical nexus. The logical connection of εἰ μή, nisi, etc., is, on the contrary, to be sought in the leading thought of the foregoing passage, which was οὐ δεδούλωται κ. τ. λ(1151) This οὐ δεδούλωται θεός was enunciated without any limitation being put upon it hitherto. It was further confirmed in 1 Corinthians 7:16. Paul desires now, in order to avert all frivolous and reckless procedure, to add to it the necessary limitation in the shape of a general principle of a practical kind, which should never be forgotten in connection with it.(1152) We may paraphrase accordingly somewhat in this fashion: “The believer is not in bondage in this matter, having, on the contrary, been called in peace, and not so much as knowing whether he shall save his non-believing consort; he is not in bondage, only(1153) he is not to use this freedom in a light and regardless way, but to remember that it is limited by the rule that every one ought to abide in a conservative spirit by the position in which God has placed and called him, and to conduct himself accordingly, instead of possibly seeking to break it up without any very pressing cause” Comp as in substance agreeing with this, Olshausen, de Wette, Osiander, Ewald, Maier. Pott holds that χωρίζεται should be supplied after εἰ ΄ή; but the antithesis would require εἰ δὲ ΄ή, and the rule which follows would be very superfluous in a case where no separation had taken place, more especially after 1 Corinthians 7:12 f. Vater and Rückert supply σώσεις: “But even if thou shouldst not, the general rule applies in every case.” Were that correct, we should of necessity find εἰ δἐ καὶ ΄ή. Lastly, there is the view of those who would join εἰ ΄ή to the preceding clause ( τινές in Theophylact, Knatchbull, Homberg, Hammond, Olearius, Morus, and recently Hofmann): if thou shalt save thy wife, if (or) not?(1155) Now this is not, indeed, excluded by the μή (as Rückert thinks, who requires οὐ; but see Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 123); still the addition would be quite inappropriate to the sense of the two questions, for these convey the idea: thou knowest not at all if, etc., with which the alternative necne does not harmonize,—on which ground, too, Hofmann makes 1 Corinthians 7:16 to be the concluding confirmation of the whole admonition beginning with τοῖς δὲ λοιποῖς in 1 Corinthians 7:12. This, again, is impossible, for this reason, that the first part of the counsel given to the λοιποί has already received its confirmation in the γάρ of 1 Corinthians 7:14, and in accordance therewith the γάρ of 1 Corinthians 7:16 must now refer in the way of confirmation only to the second part of the said counsel, as contained in 1 Corinthians 7:15. Hofmann’s interpretation is in the most complicated opposition to the plan and development of the postle’s argument. Rinck, in his Lucubr. crit. p. 142 f. (and o previously Theodoret), connects from εἰ μή on to κύριος with the preceding passage: “nescis enim, an salvum eum facturus sis, nisi prout quemque Dominus adjuverit.” But ἑκάστῳ ὡς ἐμέρ. . κ. and ἕκαστον ὡς κέκλ. . θ. are manifestly parallel, and, as such, contain not a frigid repetition (Rinck), but an earnest exhaustion of the thought.

ἑκάστῳ ὡς] the same as ὡς ἐκ., but with emphasis on the ἑκάστῳ. Comp 1 Corinthians 3:5, 1 Corinthians 10:16; Romans 12:3. As the Lord (God) hath apportioned to each (has bestowed his outward lot), as (i.e. κλήσει, 1 Corinthians 7:20) God hath called each (to he Messiah’s kingdom), so let him walk, i.e. according to the standard of this outward position (without seeking, therefore,) break with it or step out from it, 1 Corinthians 7:20; 1 Corinthians 7:24) let him regulate is conduct, his course of life. ἐμέρισεν, has given his portion (Polybius, xxxi. 18. 3, xi. 28. 9; Sirach 45:20; 2 Maccabees 8:28; 4 Maccabees 13:18), refers to the earthly relations of life, according to which, e.g., a man may be married to this person or that (and it is to this relationship that the primary application is to be made), may be circumcised or uncircumcised, a slave or free,(1157) etc. See 1 Corinthians 7:18 ff. These relationships of life are here regarded as a whole, out of which each individual has received his μέρος from God ( τὸ ΄ε΄ερισ΄ένον, Lucian, D. D. xxiv. 1), in accordance with the varying modes ( ὡς) of the divine apportionment. Comp the classical εἱ΄αρ΄ένη, sors attributa. We have neither to supply περιπατεῖν (Hofmann), nor anything else. What the Lord has apportioned is just the μέρος, which each man has. Reiche, Comm. crit. I. p. 175 ff., understands μερίζειν in the theocratic-Messianic sense, and makes κύριος refer to Christ: “in qua vitae externae sorte ac statu ( ὡς, conf. 1 Corinthians 7:18) cuique Dominus beneficiorum suorum quasi partem tribuit.” According to this, what would be meant would be the μερὶς τοῦ κλήρου τῶν ἁγίων (Colossians 1:12), which, however, refers to the bliss of the future αἰών, and would require, therefore, to be understood here proleptically. But there are two consideration which put a decided negative upon this view; first, the reference assumed for the absolute ἐμέρ. is not suggested by the context, (see, on the contrary, 1 Corinthians 7:18 ff.); and, in the second place, logically the calling must go first, since before it there can be no mention of the Messianic μερίζειν (Romans 8:30; Romans 10:14; Colossians 1:12). This holds also against the essentially similar interpretation of Harless, which co-ordinates ἐμέρ. with the calling.

κέκληκεν] a completed transaction continuing to the present in its results, hence the perfect; the aorist ἐμέρ., on the other hand, indicate something merely which took place as an act of the past, and this act occurred before the κέκληκεν, at birth, or some other point in life.

καὶ οὓτως κ. τ. λ(1159)] showing the importance of this rule, which Paul is not by any means laying down simply with a view to the special state of things at Corinth, but, etc., ἵνα τῷ ἔχειν καὶ ἄλλους κοινωνοὺς προθυμότεροι περὶ τὴν ὑπακοὴν διατεθῶσι, Theophylact.

διατάσσ.] I ordain, appoint, 1 Corinthians 11:34, 1 Corinthians 16:1. Observe the evidence here of apostolic power over the church.


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Bibliography
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". 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 7:17. εἰ μὴ, if not) that is, if this be not so, or, otherwise [but]. There is a digression from husbands and wives, 1 Corinthians 7:10, to any external condition of life.— ἑκάστῳ, to each) It may be thus resolved, let every man walk, as God hath distributed to him.— ἐμέρισεν, hath distributed) 1 Corinthians 7:7.— ὡς κέκληκεν, as He hath called) The state in which the heavenly calling has found every one.— κύριος, the Lord) Christ.— περιπατείτω, let him walk) This conclusion in which permission and command are blended together, is repeated and explained at 1 Corinthians 7:20; 1 Corinthians 7:24. Calling from above does not destroy our external conditions. Paul shows that what any one has done or would have done without it, is lawful to be done in it.— καὶ οὕτως, and thus) a universal doctrine, in which the Corinthians also may acquiesce.


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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". 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

Calling in this place signifieth that station and course of life, wherein by the providence of God any man is set. Some think, that this precept hath a special reference to what went before, as if the sense were this: If God by his providence hath so ordered it that thy heart be changed, thy wife’s or thy husband’s heart being not yet changed, but he or she remaining pagans, yet let not this cause any separation between you, but, unless the unbeliever will depart, live yet as man and wife together, mutually performing conjugal offices each to other. But the following verses, {1 Corinthians 7:21,22} where the apostle speaks of called being a servant, show this interpretation to be too narrow. The sense of the text is, that the profession of Christianity is consistent with any honest calling or course of life, and it is the will of God tliat Christians should not pretend their profession of religion, to excuse them from the duties of any relation wherein they are set.

And so ordain I in all churches; this is a universal rule, and concerned not the church of Corinth only, but all other churches of Christ, being an apostolical constitution.


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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". 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

As God hath distributed to every man; assigned him his place and lot in life. The apostle here begins an exhortation to contentment in present circumstances.

So let him walk; let each one continue in the condition and business to which God in his providence calls him, and do all the good he can.


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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "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

17. εἰ μή. Only. Not exactly equivalent to ‘but,’ for this (see Bp Lightfoot on Galatians 1:19) is never the case. The meaning is no general rule can be laid down to meet all cases, except this, ‘let every one walk in the course God has marked out to him.’ See next note.

ὡς μεμέρικεν ὁ κύριος. As the Lord hath appointed. The permission to live apart from a heathen husband or wife is given only to meet a special case, that in which the unbelieving partner demands the separation. The general rule is, remain in the condition in which you were called. That was the rule which St Paul was giving to his converts wherever he went. He now proceeds to give two remarkable illustrations of his principle, calculated at once to arrest and fix the attention of the Corinthians. He applies it to the relations of Jew and Gentile; and to those of slave and freeman, and thus shews that Christianity was not intended to introduce a violent revolutionary element into society, but to sanctify existing relations until the time came that they could be amended. ‘Christianity interferes indirectly, not directly, with existing institutions.’ Robertson. Cf. Luke 12:13-15.

διατάσσομαι. This would seem to be the present of habitual action; ‘this is what I am ordering in all the Churches,’ and not merely at Corinth. πάσαις is emphatic.


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"Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "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

17. DistributedAllotted. This new Christianity does not intend, as some aspiring spirits are inclined to fancy, to break up the order of society, but rather to make every man stay where he is, and perform the duties of his place in the very best way. Nay, it considers every man’s position rather a providential allotment, a calling which he should retain and adorn. And this maxim Paul now enforces, both by illustration and repetition. 1 Corinthians 7:20; 1 Corinthians 7:24.

Ordain I—Implying that an apostle possesses authority to supplement the ordinances of Christ.

All churches—So that the Corinthians need not feel themselves specially burdened by this injunction. It is the law for universal Christianity.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-corinthians-7.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘But as the Lord has distributed to each man, as God has called each, so let him continue to walk. And so I ordain in all the churches.’

Here the position in which each man finds himself when he is ‘called’ is seen as God’s previous distribution to him within His general purposes. Thus he may accept his lot and continue to walk in that way. It will in no way affect his spiritual position before God, as long as it does not interfere with his personal obedience to God’s commands..

The purpose here is not to restrict them to a particular station in life but to show them that from a spiritual point of view their station in life is unimportant. They need not be desperate to get out of it. But he is not saying that they should not get out of it if the opportunity arises. (Just as earlier the unmarried can marry or not as they see best before God).

‘And so I ordain in all the churches.’ He wants the Corinthians to know that he is not restricting them more than he does the other churches. He treats all the same and requires the same of all. Furthermore he may have hoped that this would be an encouragement to them as they felt themselves acting in unison with their Christian brothers.


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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/1-corinthians-7.html. 2013.

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

1 Corinthians 7:17. A general and universal principle, viz. “Be not eager to change;” which limits the foregoing counsel.

As the Lord: Christ the ruler of the church and the world, who divides among men the various circumstances, and has thus allotted to each one his position. But this allotment does not include positions of sin. These are always self-chosen.

As God hath called: the circumstances in which you received, and obeyed, the gospel call. [The perfect tense directs attention to the abiding result of the call.] That this verse does not imply that believers have received a call withheld from others by God for secret reasons, see under Romans 8:28.

Walk: see 1 Corinthians 3:3. “Continue in the position and pursue the path, in which Christ has placed you, and in which God has called you to be His people.” In § 12, this important principle will be developed and supported.

I ordain; asserts Paul's authority to announce the principles on which Christians should act.

In all the churches; testifies the importance of this universal principle, and Paul's impartiality in applying it.

THE COUNSEL of § 11 reveals Paul's careful consideration of everything bearing upon the matter in hand, undisturbed by personal prejudice or by a desire to force upon others his own practice. He has found out by experience the advantage under present circumstances of celibacy. But the self-control which alone makes celibacy expedient many have not. This, however, gives Paul no right to boast: for self-control is a gift of the undeserved favor of God, who gives to all believers real, though various, Christian excellences. The immorality prevalent at Corinth makes marriage, to speak generally, desirable both for men and women. But the force of this reason depends upon each one's degree of self-restraint, which each must estimate for himself. The marriage relation should be real, not pretended. The separation of husband and wife is not desirable, except for a spiritual purpose, by mutual consent, and for a definite time. If prolonged, it may, owing to the imperfect self-control of the Corinthian Christians, expose them to temptation. Paul reminds believers married to believers that Christ has forbidden them to break the marriage tie; and has specially forbidden re-marriage of divorced persons. That Christ's command does not apply in full force to believers married to heathens, Paul admits; and gives his own advice. He recommends that, if the heathen desires it, the marriage relation be kept up. This is not inconsistent with the holiness of the people of God. For the heathen husband is laid by the Christian wife upon the altar of God, and becomes to her a sacred object. Only on this principle can we justify the intercourse of Christian parents with unsaved children; which all admit to be both right and obligatory. But if the unbelieving partner wishes to go, the believer is not bound to oppose it. This would be an unworthy bondage; and would lead to a confusion contrary to the essence of Christianity. The uncertain benefit to the heathen is no sufficient reason for endeavoring to force upon him the continuance of an alliance he wishes to break off. But this permission to separate must be limited by the general principle, a principle which Paul inculcates everywhere with apostolic authority, that it is well not to disturb existing relations.

Notice that Paul does not give, as do small-minded men everywhere, one specific direction to be applied in all cases; but states general principles, principles bearing in opposite directions, and leaves each man to determine which of them bears with greater force on his own case. Each of these conflicting principles, he states impartially and fully.


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Beet, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". Joseph Beet's Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jbc/1-corinthians-7.html. 1877-90.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Whether he or she is unmarried or married, married to a believer or to an unbeliever, the Christian should regard his or her condition as what God has placed him or her in for the time being. The concept of "call" is a way of describing Christian conversion (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Corinthians 1:9). He or she should concentrate on serving the Lord in that condition rather than spending most of one"s time and energy on trying to change it. Paul taught the priority of serving Christ, over trying to change one"s circumstances, in all the churches.

"Paul"s intent is not to lay down a rule that one may not change; rather, by thus hallowing one"s situation in life, he is trying to help the Corinthians see that their social status is ultimately irrelevant as such (i.e, they can live out their Christian life in any of the various options) and therefore their desire to change is equally irrelevant-because it has nothing to do with genuine spirituality as their slogan would infer ( 1 Corinthians 7:1 b)." [Note: Ibid, p311. Cf. Robertson and Plummer, p144.]

This is the second of four instances where Paul appealed to what was customary in all the churches (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 11:16; 1 Corinthians 14:33). He never did this in any of his other letters. He was reminding this church that its theology was off track, not his.


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "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 7:17. “Only, in each case as the Lord has apportioned to him, in each case as God has called him, so let him (the believer) walk.” Under this general rule the exceptional and guarded permission of divorce in 1 Corinthians 7:15 was to be understood. For εἰ μὴ in this exceptive sense (= πλήν), cf. Romans 14:14, Galatians 1:7; Galatians 1:19; see Bm(1077), p. 359. The repeated distributive ἔκαστος extends the principle pointedly to every situation in life; cf. 1 Corinthians 7:20; 1 Corinthians 7:24, 1 Corinthians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 3:8-13. On μεμέρικεν, see 1 Corinthians 7:33 and 1 Corinthians 1:12 : the Christian’s secular status is a μέρος which “the Lord,” the Disposer of men’s affairs, has assigned him (cf. Matthew 25:14 f.).— ὡς κέκληκεν, on the other hand, refers not to the secular “vocation” but, as always (see 1 Corinthians 7:15; 1Co_7:18; 1Co_7:21 f., 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 1:26, etc.), to the “call” of God’s grace in the Gospel, which came to the individual readers under these circumstances or those.— οὕτως περιπατείτω enjoins the pursuance of the Christian life in harmony with the conditions thus determined at its outset. P. does not mean to stereotype a Christian’s secular employment from the time of his conversion, but forbids his renouncing this under a false notion of spiritual freedom, or in contempt of secular things as though there were no will of God for him in their disposition.

The last clause of the ver. shows that the tendency here reproved was widespread; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:2, 1 Corinthians 11:16, 1 Corinthians 14:33; 1 Corinthians 14:36.


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Bibliography
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/1-corinthians-7.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

===============================

[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Nisi, &c. Greek: ei me, it bears the sense here of but.


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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-corinthians-7.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

1 Corinthians 7:17 Only, as the Lord hath distributed to each man, as God hath called each, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all the churches.

"Only"-"I would add this" (Nor) "This sentence is tied to what precedes by the excepting conjunction "nevertheless", which refers back to the exception in v. 15. The brother or sister is not bound in such cases; nevertheless, change is not to be the rule." (Fee p. 309)

"distributed"-"assigned" (NASV) "Our providentially allotted task" (Lenski p. 299) "And we"re not to understand Paul to say that because God has "distributed" to each man his position that God actively worked it out in every man"s case. There is the permissive will of God. In the final analysis, however, nothing happens that God doesn"t permit." (McGuiggan p. 110)

"To determine what has been assigned, we need to look at the context-slavery, circumcision, i.e. to be a Jew or Gentile. One"s outward circumstances in life are assigned to him by God." (Willis p. 234)

"as God hath called each"-"and in which God has called him." (RSV); "and whatever his condition when God called him." (Wey) The "call" of this verse doesn"t refer to one"s vocation, but to one"s being called by the gospel. (1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; Ephesians 4:1) "Whereas the first clause designates one"s position in life as given to him by the Lord, the second clause relates to one"s station in life when he received the call to obey the gospel." (Willis p. 234)

"so let him walk"-"or go on in his life" (Lenski p. 299) So let him serve God in that social condition.

"And so ordain I in all the churches"-"This statement is necessary in order that the Corinthians may understand that what Paul writes to them on the practical subjects mentioned above is not something that was newly devised for the Corinthians alone but something that was applied by Paul in all the churches." (Lenski p. 299)

-See ; 11:16; 14:33. Every congregation was commanded by God to obey the apostles teaching. (Acts 2:42)

"This is the second of four instances in this letter where Paul appeals to what goes on in other churches. The lack of this kind of appeal in his other letters suggests that this is his way of reminding them that theirs is the theology that is off track, not his." (Fee p. 311)

Points to Note:

1. Paul is not teaching that the Christian could never change jobs, or his social circumstances. For he allowed Christians to marry (,28,39-40) and slaves to become free. (7:21)

2. Paul is correcting some misconceptions that the Corinthians had, especially concerning the spiritual value of certain social conditions.

"Paul does not mean to stereotype a Christian"s secular employment from the time of his conversion, but forbids his renouncing this under a false notion of spiritual freedom, or in contempt of secular things as though there were no will of God for him in their disposition." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 829)

I think Fee is on the right track, concerning what is going on behind the scenes in this chapter, or what Paul is really responding to, when he says..

"..they were seeking to change their present status, apparently because as believers they saw this as conforming to the more spiritual existence that they had already attained. Thus they saw one"s status with regard to marriage/celibacy has having religious significance and sought to change it...Paul"s concern, therefore, is not that they retain their present social setting, but that they recognize it as the proper one in which to live out God"s call." (Fee p. 309)

When I look at this chapter, it appears to me that the Corinthians were contending that one social condition was "spiritually superior" to another. Celibacy and marriage were on different spiritual levels (); Celibacy in marriage is better (spiritually) than sex in marriage (7:3-5); Divorce is better than sex in marriage (7:10-11); Divorce is better than being married to an unbeliever (7:12-15). I see Paul saying to all of this, No! Paul is saying, in whatever social situation in which you were converted, YOU CAN SERVE GOD THERE!

3. "This command to remain in the circumstances in which one has been called has been given applications which Paul never intended for it to bear since the very earliest of Christian exegesis. In the days of Tertullian (160-240 A.D.), "manufacturers of idols...claimed this principle as justifying their continuing to earn a living in this way." Some among us today want to use this passage to justify the continuance of a marital relationship which the Scriptures label as adulterous." [Note: _ Willis p. 234]

a. We should note that the social circumstances in this chapter are conditions which the gospel has labeled as morally neutral or indifferent. ()

b. The social circumstances of this chapter are conditions that the Lord views as acceptable or morally neutral. () There are certain marital conditions that the Lord doesn"t approve of. (Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9; Mark 6:17-18; Romans 7:3)

c. The social circumstances of this chapter, are the very social conditions in which one became a Christian. "As God has called each" ()

Now we all know that you can"t become a Christian while engaging in a sinful lifestyle or while being involved in a sinful relationship. Before some of the Corinthians accepted the gospel call, i.e. before they were baptized, they had to stop sinful practices (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Before you can accept the gospel call, repentance is demanded. (Acts 2:38)

McGuiggan makes a good comment when he says, "And of course God doesn"t give a person an immoral relationship." (p. 110)

d. Verse 18 is a good test verse to see what types of social conditions Paul actually had in mind. The social conditions are those that you can substitute for the word "circumcised", and have the text still making sense. These are the types of social conditions that this chapter is dealing with. But the following doesn"t fit: "Was any man called already having an affair with another man"s wife? Let him not break off the affair". "Was any man called already being in a marriage in which adultery is taking place? (Matthew 5:32) Let him not cease the adultery."???


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Bibliography
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "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

But. Greek. ei me, as 1 Corinthians 7:5.

God . . . the Lord. These should be transposed. Compare 1 Corinthians 1:9. Romans 8:30. Galatians 1:1, Galatians 1:15. Ephesians 4:4. 1 Thessalonians 2:12. 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 2 Thessalonians 2:14; 2 Timothy 1:9.

distributed = divided, or imparted. Greek. merizo. Occurs fourteen times. Always translated divided, except here, 1 Corinthians 7:34. Romans 12:3. 2 Corinthians 10:13. Hebrews 7:2.

every one. Same as "every man".

ordain = appoint. Greek. diatassomai. See Acts 7:44.

churches. App-186.


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "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

But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

But - Greek [ ei-mee (Greek #1508)], 'If not.' 'Only.' The "But" favours the former view. But if there be no hope of gaining over the unbeliever, still the general principle holds good, 'As the Lord hath allotted to each, as God hath called each, so let him walk' (so 'Aleph (') A B C Delta G f g, Vulgate, transpose "Lord" and "God"); i:e., let him walk in the calling allotted to him. The heavenly calling does not set aside our earthly callings, as the marriage relation. Christianity can maintain itself in all outward relations, without requiring us to forsake them.

So ordain I in all churches - ye also therefore should obey.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "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

Each one should go on. The false teacher at Corinth (who was probably one of the Circumcision Party) taught that when you became a Christian, all former moral and political obligations vanished. This caused some wives to abandon their marriages (1 Corinthians 7:10-11), and some men to quit their jobs and beg the church to support them (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15). Paul says that every Christian should fulfill all the moral and political obligations which he had before becoming a Christian, unless he can change his condition lawfully.


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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "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

(17) But as God hath distributed . . .—Regarding 1 Corinthians 7:16 as a kind of parenthesis, these words follow on from 1 Corinthians 7:15 as a general principle to be ever borne in mind, as limiting in practice the very broad liberty which the Apostle has given regarding separation in cases of mixed marriages. It is to be noticed that in 1 Corinthians 7:15 the unbelieving partner is the only one who is spoken of as taking an active part in the separation; the believer is, merely for the sake of peace, to acquiesce in it; he is never to cause or promote a separation, for he is to be guided by the great principle that we are to continue to walk in those social and political relations by which we were bound when God called us. Christianity does not destroy them, but purifies and exalts them, and thus makes them more binding on us than before. According as the Lord has divided to each man his portion in life, and as God has called each man, so in that condition let him continue to walk as a Christian. Let him not try to change it for another. The words “God” and “Lord” have been transposed by later copyists. The order in the English version is different from that in the older MSS. It is important to preserve the accurate reading here, for it speaks of Christ—“the Lord”—as the one who allots to men their natural condition in life, while “God” calls them from heathenism to the Christian faith.

And so ordain I in all churches.—This principle was of universal application, and the Apostle lays it down authoritatively for all Churches. The I is emphatic, as the writer speaks with apostolic authority. It is noticeable that in some few later MSS. there is an attempt to weaken its force by the substitution of “I teach” for “I appoint or direct.” (See 1 Corinthians 16:1.)


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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-corinthians-7.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.
as God
7; Matthew 19:12; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Peter 4:10,11
as the
18,20,21,24
so ordain
4:17; 16:1; 2 Corinthians 11:28

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "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

But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, ‹8› so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

Paul was not only averse to breaking up the conjugal relation, but it was a general ordinance of his that men should remain in the same social position after becoming Christians, which they had occupied before. We can very imperfectly appreciate the effect produced by the first promulgation of the gospel. The signs and wonders, and diverse miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost by which it was attended; the perfect equality of men which it announced; the glorious promises which it contained; the insignificancy and ephemeral character which it ascribed to every thing earthly; and the certainty of the second coming of Christ which it predicted, produced a ferment in the minds of men such as was never experienced either before or since. It is not surprising, therefore, that men were in many instances disposed to break loose from their social ties; wives to forsake their unbelieving husbands, or husbands their wives; slaves to renounce the authority of their masters, or subjects the dominion of their sovereigns. This was an evil which called for repression. Paul endeavored to convince his readers that their relation to Christ was compatible with any social relation or position. It mattered not whether they were circumcised or uncircumcised, bond or free, married to a Christian or married to a Gentile, their fellowship with Christ remained the same. Their conversion to Christianity involved, therefore, no necessity of breaking asunder their social ties. The gospel was not a revolutionary, disorganizing element; but one which was designed to eliminate what is evil, and to exalt and purify what is in itself indifferent.

As God (or the Lord) hath distributed to every man, i.e. whatever lot in life God has assigned any man. As the Lord (or God) hath called every man, i.e. whatever condition or station a man occupied when called by the word and Spirit of God, let him remain in it. His conversion, at least, does not render any change necessary. The principal difficulty with regard to this verse does not appear in our version. The words ( וי ̓ לח ̀), rendered but at the beginning of the verse, mean except or unless, and this meaning they have so uniformly that many commentators insist that they must be so rendered here. Some of them say the meaning is, ‘What do you know except this, that every man should remain in the condition in which he was called?' But in this way the verse does not cohere with the preceding one. ‘How knowest thou O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife? except let every man remain as he was called.' This every one feels to be intolerably harsh. It would be better with others, to supply something at the beginning of the verse. ‘What is to be done except.' ‘Do not favor the separation of husbands and wives on account of differences in religion. God has called us to peace. The wife may save her husband, and the husband his wife. What then is to be done, except to remain in the condition in which you were called.' Others get over the difficulty by separating the וי ̓ and לח ̀ and connecting the latter with a verb understood. ‘How knowest thou, O man, but that thou shalt save thy wife? If not, i.e. if thou shalt not save her, still the principle holds good that every man should remain in the state in which he was called.' This gives a good sense, but it would require וי ̓ הו ̀ לח ́. As it is undeniable that the Greek of the New Testament especially in the use of the particles, is in a measure conformed to the usage of the Hebrew, a freer use of these particles is allowable, when the context requires it, than is common in classic writers. Most commentators therefore render the words in question as our translators have done. And so I ordain in all the churches. That is, this is the rule or order which I lay down in all churches. The apostles, in virtue of their plenary inspiration, were authorized not only to teach the doctrines of the gospel, but also to regulate all matters relating to practice.


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hdg/1-corinthians-7.html.

: Only, as the Lord hath distributed to each Prayer of Manasseh , as God hath called each, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all the churches.

At the end of verse15 Paul introduced the word "called." Here he expands on that thought: "as God hath called each, so let him walk." In other words, when a person becomes a Christian, their outward relationships do not matter and do need to change. If someone was "circumcised" when they became a Christian (verse18), that was okay. If another were "uncircumcised" (verse18) at the time of their conversion, that also was fine. Called (kaleo) is a metonymy (a figure of speech) to describe conversion. If a person is converted as a slave (verse21), he or she could stay a slave and please God. Those who were free (verse21) could remain free. Today we could add the words "rich," "poor," "educated," plus many more descriptions. Our "status" has no effect on our relationship with Jesus (compare Galatians 3:28). Paul used social relationships to further demonstrate the permanence of marriages.

Paul's point is easily understood, but it has often been misapplied. Verses17-22have been used by people to support things like homosexuality. A typical argument goes something like this: "Come to Christ as you are. God accepts you no matter what, and no changes are necessary." This type of teaching denies the necessity of repentance, something Jesus said is necessary ( Luke 13:3). Paul also said repentance is required ( Acts 17:30). Throughout the Bible people are told they cannot remain in sin ( Romans 6:1-2; Colossians 3:1-3; 1 Peter 1:14).

Abiding in one's calling describes and is limited to "neutral" matters (things such as slavery and circumcision. Compare Galatians 5:6). One commentator put the matter this way: "The call to conversion radically altered an individual's spiritual relationship but need effect no changes at all in physical relationships that were not immoral" (Bible Knowledge, p519). In spite of this what Paul said has been misapplied since the days of Tertullian (A.D160-240). Tertullian was a prolific writer and by his time people were using this verse to say idol makers could continue in their craft. If it is really true that people can "come as they are" (no changes are necessary), the murderer, thief, bigamist, and all liars must be allowed to continue their way of life because this is how they are. Too, if this passage means "come as you are" in a universal sense, it forbids people from "bettering" themselves in the areas of health, education, employment, etc.

God's will for the Corinthians was also His will for "all the churches" (17b). This exact expression is also found in Romans 16:4; 1 Corinthians 14:33; 2 Corinthians 8:18; 2 Corinthians 11:28; Revelation 2:23. It occurs in the English text of Romans 16:16 (ASV) but is not in the Greek text of the verse. Jesus is the head of His church ( Ephesians 5:23), and He has left information ( Jude 1:3) for how His church is to function (compare 1 Corinthians 4:17). For additional information about the church of the New Testament, see the information on14:34 as well as the special study at the end of this commentary.

Apostolic instruction applied to all the local congregations. In the church of the New Testament rules were not made by preachers. Elders are to "take care of the church of God" ( 1 Timothy 3:5), but they do not make the rules. God has given a "pattern" ( 2 Timothy 1:13, ASV) and this pattern is to be followed in every assembly (church). If all congregations are following the pattern recorded in the New Testament, they will have some striking similarities. A lack of similarity among religious groups indicates that people are not following some or several parts of the Scriptures. Hodge (p121) rightly said, "The apostles, in virtue of their plenary inspiration, were authorized not only to teach the doctrines of the gospel, but also to regulate all matters relating to practice." We find them doing this in several of the New Testament epistles.

At the beginning of verse17 are the words "distributed to each one." If these words are kept in their context, they mean God has given (distributed) things to people that are morally neutral (circumcision and slavery, verses18,21). Paul affirmed a similar truth in Romans 12:6-8. Jesus said God is the giver of our talents, and He gives "according to our ability" ( Matthew 25:15). A similar thing was true for the spiritual gifts given in first century times (the Holy Spirit determined what gifts should be given to specific Christians, 1 Corinthians 12:11). Readers may also wish to study Acts 17:26 (God has established national boundaries). He has determined what countries should exist and how far their borders should extend. How and why God has done these things is known only to Him. God has made other determinations in and about the world, though this does not mean He has predetermined who will be saved and who will be lost.

Paul referred to this same type of divine activity earlier in the chapter (verse7); there he said each Christian receives "his own gift from God." Our status in life (Jew, Gentile, ruler, factory worker, homemaker, preacher, etc.) is somehow "distributed" (merizo) by God. Though nations and all persons are able to make decisions and choices about their lives, God is somehow behind the scenes in the life of every person. Willis (p194) suggested, "One's outward circumstances in life are assigned to him by God." Other interesting verses to compare in this regard include Luke 12:48 b and John 19:11. If God is not involved with what we have and who we are, how can we "render an account of our stewardship" ( Luke 16:2)? Who has made us stewards if it is not God?

In saying God is "behind" certain things we are not affirming the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination (i.e. God has foreordained what men and women must do-they have no free-will). This error is discussed and refuted in the commentary on. Calvinism is one false extreme and the other false extreme believes God plays no part in distributing talents and abilities to mankind. Nowhere in the Bible do we find statements claiming God is inactive in our world and lives. God has a part in the governments of the world ( Daniel 4:25) just as He has a part in the abilities possessed by people. God's work in this area has been compared to a card game. When participating in a card game people are "dealt a hand" and it is up to them to do with it what they will (they must use what they have received). Some receive "much" and others receive "little" ( Luke 12:48 b and James 1:17). There are also those who have received difficult circumstances ( John 9:2-3). We must be faithful with what we receive.

As this material was being written a well-known radio talk show host often boasted about his talent "being on loan from God." Whether this was a jestful comment or not, the broadcaster's statement reveals the truth of this verse. God gives people varying talents and abilities. When people refused to acknowledge this, they got into trouble. King Nebuchadnezzar had to learn this lesson the hard way ( Daniel 4:29-33), as did King Herod ( Acts 12:21-23) and the rich farmer ( Luke 12:16-20 -notice all the times this man said "I"). In Exodus 4:11 we are provided with further proof about all we have coming from God. This passage says, "And Jehovah said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? Or who maketh (a man) dumb, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, Jehovah?" Because God has had a hand in our lives, we need to "walk" in a way where we please Him and use our talents wisely. When we do this, we will have the promise found in 1 Corinthians 10:13 : "There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it."

At the end of verse17 the ASV and the KJV have the word "ordain" (diatasso). Paul ordained (gave orders, commands) concerning certain practices (compare verse19b). "Rule" is how the word is defined in the Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (). This term is used of the emperor Claudius in Acts 18:2 (he "issued an edict"). Jesus also ordained things ( 1 Corinthians 9:14) as did angels ( Galatians 3:19). In 1 Corinthians 7:17 this word means "I make this rule in all the churches" (Gingrich and Danker, p189). In 1 Corinthians 11:34 this same word is translated "set in order." In the final chapter of this book (16:1) it is rendered "gave order." Although it is popular to believe there is little divine regulation for worship or Christian living, this term says God has regulated things. Readers should take careful note of the fact that this term is also used by Jesus in Luke 17:10. Jesus' use of this word conclusively proves God has commandments and people must keep them. Kittel's comments on the word in Luke 17:10 (8:35) are excellent: "God's concrete directions which fill life with works of obedience." When Paul wrote to Titus ( Titus 1:5) he also used this term. Since the context of the term in Titus 1:5 deals with church organization, we may conclude part of God's commandments include having a local congregation organized as the Scriptures describe.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Price, Brad "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:17". "Living By Faith: Commentary on Romans". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bpc/1-corinthians-7.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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