One Corinthians Seven

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

1 Corinthians 7:1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

1 Corinthians 7:2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

1 Corinthians 7:3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

1 Corinthians 7:4 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.

1 Corinthians 7:5 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.

1 Corinthians 7:6 But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.

by permission. The “permission” given Paul was obviously from the Lord, since no one was above Paul in terms of apostolic authority. Thus, he was claiming—not denying—divine inspiration. He did not have an explicit “commandment” to cite for this teaching, either from the Mosaic law or the teachings of Christ, but rather he had direct divine authorization.

1 Corinthians 7:7 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.

1 Corinthians 7:8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.

1 Corinthians 7:9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

1 Corinthians 7:10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

yet not I. In this case, Paul was not citing his own divinely-inspired authority for his teaching (as in 1 Corinthians 7:6, 12), but to a specific teaching of Scripture (e.g., Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:3-6). The Lord had already established and commanded the marriage relation to be permanent.

1 Corinthians 7:11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

1 Corinthians 7:12 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.

not the Lord. Again Paul is claiming, not disclaiming, divine authority for his teaching. In fact, he is even boldly superseding a command given by God through Ezra to the Jews. After returning from their captivity in Babylon, the Jews had taken wives from the unbelieving people of the land, and God told them: “Separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange [i.e., foreign] wives” (Ezra 10:11). In the Christian context, however, a Christian is commanded not to divorce a non-Christian spouse, as long as the latter is willing to remain in the marriage.

1 Corinthians 7:13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

1 Corinthians 7:14 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.

now are they holy. If one member of the marriage is a believer, then he or she has been “sanctified”—that is, “set apart” in a special relation—unto God. By that very fact, then both the unbelieving spouse and their children have also been “set apart,” inevitably sharing some of the blessings that God promises the believing partner. The most obvious such blessing is the greater possibility that the children, as well as the non-Christian spouse, will be won to Christ by the believing spouse (1 Corinthians 7:16).

1 Corinthians 7:15 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.

bondage in such cases. If the unbelieving husband or wife chooses to leave the relationship, however, there remains nothing else the believer can do. The Christian spouse should remain unmarried (1 Corinthians 7:11) as long as there is any possibility of reconciliation. Otherwise he or she “is not under bondage”—that is, no longer bound by the law to remain with the other spouse. The situation seems analogous to that in which one partner dies. “If the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband … so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man” (Romans 7:2-3). Once the ex-husband or ex-wife marries another, then the previous marriage relation is as permanently severed as if it had been severed by death, with no further possibility of reconciliation. When that becomes the case, it seems plain that there is no further “bondage” of any sort, so that the believer is free to remarry—but, of course, only “in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39).

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

1 Corinthians 7:17 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.

1 Corinthians 7:18 Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.

1 Corinthians 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

1 Corinthians 7:20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

1 Corinthians 7:21 Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.

1 Corinthians 7:22 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.

1 Corinthians 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

1 Corinthians 7:24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

1 Corinthians 7:25 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.

give my judgment. There had been no previous commandment specifically concerning virgins, except to refrain from fornication, so Paul gives his own inspired judgment (note 1 Corinthians 7:40). Before giving his advice concerning virgins, however, he points out that the imminent “distress” (1 Corinthians 7:26, 29)—possibly referring to the soon-coming severe persecutions of Christians by the Romans—would indicate that it might be better to remain unmarried, even though getting married was certainly no sin (1 Corinthians 7:28).

1 Corinthians 7:26 I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.

1 Corinthians 7:27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.

1 Corinthians 7:28 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.

1 Corinthians 7:29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;

1 Corinthians 7:30 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;

1 Corinthians 7:31 And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.

1 Corinthians 7:32 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:

carefulness. In its former usage it means “worrying.”

1 Corinthians 7:33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

1 Corinthians 7:34 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.

1 Corinthians 7:35 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.

1 Corinthians 7:36 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.

if any man. This evidently is a reference to the virgin's father, who normally determined when, and to whom, his daughter would marry (see 1 Corinthians 7:38).

1 Corinthians 7:37 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.

1 Corinthians 7:38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

1 Corinthians 7:39 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.

only in the Lord. It is always outside of God's will for a believer to marry an unbeliever (note 2 Corinthians 6:14). God can forgive sin, of course, including this sin, but such a direct act of disobedience is dangerous. Such marriages more commonly result in the believer backsliding than the unbeliever coming to Christ. Such basic differences should be resolved before marriage, not after.

1 Corinthians 7:40 But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.