1 Corinthians Chapter 7

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THIS chapter commences the second part or division of this epistle, or, the discussion of those points which had been submitted to the apostle in a letter from the church at Corinth, for his instruction and advice. See the Introduction to the epistle. The letter in which they proposed the questions which are here discussed, has been lost. It is manifest that, if we now had it, it would throw some light on the answers which Paul has given to their inquiries in this chapter. The first question which is discussed, 1Cor 7:1ff, is, whether it were lawful and proper to enter into the marriage relation. How this question had arisen, it is not now possible to determine with certainty. It is probable, however, that it arose from disputes be- tween those of Jewish extraction, who held not only the lawfulness, but the importance of the marriage relation, according to the doctrines of the Old Testament, and certain followers or friends of some Greek philosophers, who might have been the advocates of celibacy. But why they advocated that doctrine is unknown. It is known, however, that many even of the Greek philosophers, among whom were Lycurgus, Thales, Antiphanes, and Socrates, (see Grotius,) thought that, considering "the untractable tempers of women, and how troublesome and fraught with danger was the education of children," it was the part of wisdom not to enter into the marriage relation. From them may have been derived the doctrine of celibacy in the Christian church; a doctrine that has been the cause of so much corruption in the monastic system, and in the celibacy of the clergy among the papists. The Jews, however, everywhere defended the propriety and duty of marriage. They regarded it as an ordinance of God. And to this day they hold that a man who has arrived at the age of twenty years, and who has not entered into this relation, unless prevented by natural defects, or by profound study of the law, sins against God. Between these two classes, or those in the church who had been introduced there from these two classes, the question would be agitated whether marriage was lawful and advisable.

Another question which, it seems, had arisen among: them was, whether it was proper to continue in the married state in the existing condition of the church, as exposed to trials and persecutions; or whether it was proper for those who had become converted to continue their relations in life with those who were unconverted. This the apostle discusses in 1Cor 7:10ff. Probably many supposed that it was unlawful to live with those who were not Christians; and they thence inferred that the relation which subsisted before conversion should be dissolved. And this doctrine they carried to the relation between master and servant, as well as between husband and wife. The general doctrine which Paul states in answer to this is, that the wife was not to depart from her husband, 1Cor 7:10; but if she did, she was not at liberty to marry again, since her former marriage was still binding, 1Cor 7:11. He added that a believing man, or Christian, should not put away his unbelieving wife, 1Cor 7:12, and that the relation should continue, notwithstanding a difference of religion; and that if a separation ensued, it should be in a peaceful manner, and the parties were not at liberty to marry again, 1Cor 7:13ff. So, also, in regard to the relation of master and slave. It was not to be violently sundered. The relations of life were not to be broken up by Christianity; but every man was to remain in that rank of life in which he was when he was converted, unless it could be changed in a peaceful and lawful manner, 1Cor 7:18ff.

A third subject submitted to him was, whether it was advisable, in existing circumstances, that the unmarried virgins who were members of the church should enter into the marriage relation, 1Cor 7:25ff. This the apostle answers in the remainder of the chapter. The sum of his advice on that question is, that it would be lawful for them to marry, but that it was not then advisable; and that, at all events, they should so act as to remember that life was short, and so as not to be too much engrossed with the affairs of this life, but should live for eternity. He said that though it was lawful, yet,

(1.) in their present distress it might be unadvisable, 1Cor 7:26.

(2.) That marriage tended to an increase of care and anxiety, and it might not be proper then to enter into that relation, 1Cor 7:32ff.

(3.) That they should live to God, 1Cor 7:29ff.

(4.) That a man should not be oppressive and harsh towards his daughter, or towards one under his care; but that, if it would be severe in him to forbid such a marriage, he should allow it, 1Cor 7:36. And

(5.) that on the whole it was advisable, under existing circumstances, not to enter into the marriage relation, 1Cor 7:38ff.


1: Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. edit

2: Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. edit

3: Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. edit

4: The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. edit

5: Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. edit

6: But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. edit

7: For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. edit

8: I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. edit

9: But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. edit

10: And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: edit

11: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. edit

12: But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. edit

13: And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. edit

14: For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. edit

15: But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. edit

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? edit

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. edit

18: Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. edit

19: Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. edit

20: Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. edit

21: Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. edit

22: For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. edit

23: Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. edit

24: Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God. edit

25: Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. edit

26: I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be. edit

27: Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. edit

28: But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you. edit

29: But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; edit

30: And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; edit

31: And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away. edit

32: But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: edit

33: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. edit

34: There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. edit

35: And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. edit

36: But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. edit

37: Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. edit

38: So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better. edit

39: The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. edit

40: But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God. edit

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