Teaching on Marriage
1Now as to the matters of which you wrote: It is good (beneficial, advantageous) for a man not to touch a woman [outside marriage]. 2 But because of [the temptation to participate in] sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 The husband must fulfill his [marital] duty to his wife [with good will and kindness], and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have [exclusive] authority over her own body, but the husband shares with her; and likewise the husband does not have [exclusive] authority over his body, but the wife shares with him. 5 Do not deprive each other [of marital rights], except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, so that you may devote yourselves [unhindered] to prayer, but come together again so that Satan will not tempt you [to sin] because of your lack of self-control. 6 But I am saying this as a concession, not as a command. 7 I wish that all the people were as I am; but each person has his own gift from God, one of this kind and one of that.
8 But I say to the unmarried and to the widows, [that as a practical matter] it is good if they remain [single and entirely devoted to the Lord] [a]as I am. 9 But if they do not have [sufficient] self-control, they should marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
10 But to the [b]married [believers] I give instructions—not I, but the Lord—that the wife is not to separate from her husband, 11 (but even if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be [c]reconciled to her husband) and that the husband should not leave his wife.
12 To the [d]rest I declare—I, not the Lord [since Jesus did not discuss this]—that if any [believing] brother has a wife who does not believe [in Christ], and she consents to live with him, he must not leave her. 13 And if any [believing] woman has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not leave him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is [e]sanctified [that is, he receives the blessings granted] through his [Christian] wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be [ceremonially] [f]unclean, but as it is they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner leaves, let him leave. In such cases the [remaining] brother or sister is not [spiritually or morally] bound. But God has called us to [g]peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband [by leading him to Christ]? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife [by leading her to Christ]?
17 Only, let each one live the life which the Lord has assigned him, and to which God has called him [for each person is unique and is accountable for his choices and conduct, let him walk in this way]. This is the rule I make in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his calling [from God already] circumcised? He is not to [h]become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called while uncircumcised? [i]He is not to be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was [when he was] called.
21 Were you a slave when you were called? Do not worry about that [since your status as a believer is [j]equal to that of a freeborn believer]; but if you are able to gain your freedom, [k]do that. 22 For he who was a slave when he was called in the Lord is a freedman of the Lord, likewise he who was free when he was called is a slave of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price [a precious price paid by Christ]; do not become slaves to men [but to Christ]. 24 Brothers, let each one remain with God in that condition in which he was [when he was] called.
25 Now concerning the virgins [of marriageable age] I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think then that because of the impending distress [that is, the pressure of the current trouble], it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you [l]unmarried? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned [in doing so]; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned [in doing so]. Yet those [who marry] will have troubles (special challenges) in this life, and I am trying to spare you that. 29 But I say this, believers: the [m]time has been shortened, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they did not; 30 and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess [anything]; 31 and those who use the world [taking advantage of its opportunities], as though they did not make full use of it. For the outward form of this world [its present social and material nature] is passing away.
32 But I want you to be free from concern. The unmarried man is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; 33 but the married man is concerned about worldly things, how he may please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. The unmarried woman or the virgin is concerned about the matters of the Lord, how to be holy and set apart both in body and in spirit; but a married woman is concerned about worldly things, how she may please her husband. 35 Now I say this for your own benefit; not to restrict you, but to promote what is appropriate and secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.
36 But if any man thinks that he is not acting properly and honorably toward his virgin daughter, [[n]by not permitting her to marry], if she is [o]past her youth, and it must be so, let him do as he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry. 37 But the man who stands firmly committed in his heart, having no compulsion [to yield to his daughter’s request], and has authority over his own will, and has decided in his own heart to keep his own virgin [daughter from being married], he will do well. 38 So then both the father who gives his virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better.
39 A wife is bound [to her husband by law] as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry whomever she wishes, only [provided that he too is] in the Lord. 40 But in my opinion a widow is happier if she stays as she is. And I think that I also have the Spirit of God [in this matter].
- 1 Corinthians 7:8 Some scholars believe Paul may have been a widower.
- 1 Corinthians 7:10 Couples who are both believers.
- 1 Corinthians 7:11 In reference to married Christians, Paul teaches that reconciliation is always preferable to separation or divorce and should be actively sought.
- 1 Corinthians 7:12 Christians married to non-believers. It is evident that some of the married couples in Corinth had wed before either of them had become Christians, and subsequently the believing spouses probably wondered whether their marriage was legitimate in the eyes of God.
- 1 Corinthians 7:14 The unbeliever is not saved by marriage to a Christian. Each person, whether spouse or child, must make a personal decision to accept and follow Christ to receive salvation and God’s promises.
- 1 Corinthians 7:14 The word used here seems to be borrowed from the language of OT ritual. There were many things that could render a person ceremonially unclean. All these things would disqualify a person from participating in worship, and required cleansing rituals to correct.
- 1 Corinthians 7:15 Probably peace between the spouses, hopefully leading to restoration and salvation (v 16).
- 1 Corinthians 7:18 Paul may be speaking figuratively of abandoning all of one’s Jewish heritage and culture; however, there was a procedure in ancient medicine for reversing circumcision.
- 1 Corinthians 7:18 A faction of Jewish Christians (often called “Judaizers”) hounded Paul and insisted that Gentile believers must be circumcised.
- 1 Corinthians 7:21 In practice, even if both a slave and his master became Christians, the slave would remain so unless he were freed (cf Onesimus and Philemon); he could not claim that his freedom in Christ applied to his civil status as a slave. But it would have been wrong for others to treat a slave differently from anyone else in church services.
- 1 Corinthians 7:21 This essentially is an exception to the rule of v 20.
- 1 Corinthians 7:27 Lit released from a wife.
- 1 Corinthians 7:29 Paul may be referring to the appointed time of the return of Christ, or he may have been focusing on the briefness of human life, or both of these.
- 1 Corinthians 7:36 In ancient times marriages were usually arranged by a girl’s father or the head of the family.
- 1 Corinthians 7:36 I.e. has reached her child-bearing years.