1 Corinthians Chapter 7

December 1, 2011

This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on 1 Corinthians. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.

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1 Corinthians 7:1-40 (NIV)
1 Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. 2 But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7 I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. 8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. 10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. 12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? 17 Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. 18 Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. 20 Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. 21 Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you–although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22 For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to. 25 Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are. 27 Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this. 29 What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. 32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs–how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world–how he can please his wife– 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world–how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. 36 If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. 37 But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin–this man also does the right thing. 38 So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does even better. 39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. 40 In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is–and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

Paul is dealing with questions that have been posed to him regarding marriage with respect to the new understanding of the women in Corinth about equality.

1 Corinthians 7:1-9

Does women’s full equality rule out marriage?

Even though Paul says it is good for a person not to marry, he is not saying this is standard. He actually says that marriage is the normal state for men and women. He goes on to state that one of the purposes of marriage is to help satisfy our God given sexual desires needs in a holy way. Then Paul really shakes up the culture by saying it is not only the man who has marital rights, needs and desires. The woman has them as well. Full sexual equality and partnership in marriage is an early Christian teaching.

1 Corinthians 7:10-11

What about divorce?

In light of their newly acquired standing of equality, some of the Corinthian wives felt that in order to find out who they were, they needed to step out of the bondage of their marriages. Paul tells them this is not OK, and it is also not OK for the husbands.

1 Corinthians 7:12-16

What about unbelieving spouses?

If the unbeliever wants to stay in the relationship, the believer should not initiate a divorce. The presence of the believer in the marriage might be a part of bringing the unbeliever to Christ. However, if the unbeliever wants out, the believer does not need to feel guilty about it.

1 Corinthians 7:17-24

Paul gives us a basic principle. An underlying reason for the questions Paul was given had to do with the Corinthians “finding themselves”. What did this new life in Christ look like? In order to find out, they thought they needed to change the conditions under which they lived.

A wife wanted to get a divorce so she could have a separate identity. A man wanted to make his marriage “spiritual” by eliminating sex.

Paul’s response to this is 1 Corinthians 7:17:
“Each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him”.

What was Paul saying?

What does Paul mean by that? God Himself has assigned us our roles in life. And God has called us to live in that role. Women in Corinth, would find themselves not be seeking emancipation, but by living out their calling as women. Men would find themselves, by living out their calling as men. It is by serving God that we discover who we are.

1 Corinthians 7:25-38

What about our virgin daughters?

Arranged marriages were common at that time. Apparently, because of some crisis at the time, Paul was saying if you want to hold off on the marriages it is OK, but it is also OK if you want to move forward with them.

1 Corinthians 7:39-40

What about widows?

Widows were free to remarry, but only to other Christians.

God has assigned us our roles in life, and calls us to live in that place. It is by affirming the worth and the value of who we are, not in struggling to be something we are not, that we find fulfillment.

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