Chapter 7: 1 Corinthians 7: 1-40, marital relationship, sexual purity, divorce, remarrying, instructions for the spouse with an unbelieving partner, remaining status quo, celibacy
Heavenly Father, we pray that spiritual our eyes, ears, hearts, minds, and intellect be opened, receptive, soft, and obedient to the anointing of the Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
VV 1-4, 1 Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
Paul replied to a letter he received from the Corinthians church but this letter was lost and did not survive through history. Paul spelled out the principles of marriage and sexual purity. People should live in moral purity, but marriage is required to overcome sexual immorality for most. A husband should perform his marital duty to his wife and vice versa.
VV 5-9, 5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment. 7 For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that. 8 But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; 9 but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
Husbands and wives should not abstain from sex except when mutually agreed for a limited time for fasting and prayer. Celibacy is a gift and calling from God but not everyone had this gift and calling. Paul encouraged the unmarried and the widows to remain unmarried if they had the gift to remain single, otherwise, they should marry.
VV 10-11, 10 Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.
Paul encouraged a wife not to divorce her husband but if she did, she should remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. Similarly, a husband should not divorce his wife.
VV 12-13, 12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him.
If a Christian brother has an unbelieving wife and she is willing to live with him, he should not divorce her. Similarly, if a Christian sister has an unbelieving husband, and he is willing to live with her, she should not divorce him.
VV 14-16, 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise, your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?
The unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife and vice versa. The children of a married couple where one partner is a believer are sanctified by the believing partner. If the unbelieving husband or wife wants to leave the marriage relationship, they should be allowed to do so. Concerning this, Paul asked a rhetorical question. Sometimes, a believing wife may save her unbelieving husband and vice versa.
VV 17-19, 17 But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches. 18 Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.
Paul asked two rhetorical questions. Christians who were circumcised or uncircumcised before they become Christians should remain in the status quo. Circumcision or uncircumcision has no bearing on spirituality or righteousness. What matters is an obedient heart. Spiritual circumcision is a spiritual heart transplant performed by the Holy Spirit
Romans 2:28-29, For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart, by the Spirit, not the letter. That man’s praise is not from men but from God.
VV 20-24, 20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it.22 For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise, he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.
Paul asked one more rhetorical question. Christians who were slaves before they become Christians should remain in the status quo. They were now free in Christ. Christians who were freed people before they become Christians should remain in the status quo. They were now redeemed by Christ and became slaves to Christ.
VV 25-28, 25 Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord, yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy. 26 I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is: 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.
Paul encouraged sexual purity but had no commandment from the Lord concerning celibacy. Celibacy is a gift and calling of God and very few people had this calling. Paul asked two rhetorical questions. If a Christian is married, he/she should remain in the status quo. If a Christian is divorced, he/she should remain in the status quo but if he/she remarries, he/she had not sinned. If a virgin marries she had not sinned.
VV 29-31, 29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, 30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, 31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.
The time is short because Christ’s second coming is imminent. We should not hold too tightly to the things of the world. The world is transient and will soon pass away, 1 John 2:15-17. The world will be destroyed by fire on Christ’s second coming and there will be a new heaven and a new earth. Rev 21:1.
1 John 2:15-17, NIV, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life come not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
Rev 21:1, “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea.”
VV 32-35, 32 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. 33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world, how he may please his wife. 34 There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.
Remaining unmarried has many advantages. Unmarried people can dedicate their lives fully to Christ. They are not distracted by the entanglement and the cares of the married life. Without a spouse and children, the unmarried person is free to serve the Lord wholeheartedly and without distractions.
VV 36-38, 36 But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry. 37 Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well. 38 So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.
If a man is betrothed to be married and his passion is too strong, he should marry the woman instead of sinning.
VV 39- 40, 39 A wife is bound by the law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment, and I think I also have the Spirit of God.
Legally, a woman cannot marry another man as long as her husband is alive but once the husband dies, she is freed by law to marry again. If she is happy to remain unmarried, she should remain unmarried and serve the Lord wholeheartedly.
Celibacy is a gift and calling of God. Those who do not have this gift or calling should be married.
True circumcision is a spiritual circumcision of the heart and not a physical act. This is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring about a radical change in heart attitude resulting in the transformation of hearts, renewal of minds, and conforming a person into the image of God.
We should hold lightly to the things of the world because Christ’s second coming is imminent.
Heavenly Father, thank You for lessons concerning marriage, divorce, remarry, correct conduct towards unbelieving spouses, gifts of celibacy, and so on. These are pertinent ethical issues that we faced in our lives today. We pray for insight and wisdom to apply these instructions, in Jesus’ name, Amen.