Teaching on Marriage: 7:1-7.
(Read 1 Cor 7:1-7)
Paul now addresses various issues that the Corinthians had raised in a letter to him (1 Cor 7:1). First he addresses the issue of marriage and sexuality. It is likely that there was a group within the church who argued that celibacy is desirable if not obligatory on all Christians. Paul says, such practice is good and profitable if God has given the gift to remain happily unmarried. Paul never intends to teach that marriage is morally wrong as compared with celibacy (1 Cor 7:2, 9). To avoid immorality, Paul permits these believers to marry than fall into the temptation. In fact, he is encouraging married couples to be sexually active with one another (1 Cor 7:4). A couple may choose to refrain from sexual activity for a limited time so that they can devote themselves to prayer (7:5). Paul does not support the view that remaining unmarried is a sin. God gives some the gift of marriage and to others the gift of singleness (1 Cor 7:7). Christ does not destroy sexuality but defines the boundaries for it. The marriage relationship provides sexual fulfillment and protect believers from temptations. He has saved us from sin and has given us his Spirit to live the life that pleases him. Paul says, it is better to stay unmarried just as he is (1 Cor 7:8). Scholars suggest that since Paul was a Pharisee, he was probably married. But when he became a Christians either his wife left him or has died. Do not rush into marriage. Take time to know one another. Before marriage, test the depth of love and commitment to one another. If the other person is not a believer, don’t even consider marriage (2 Cor 6:14). Before marriage, consider your commitment to Christ. Whether you marry or remain single, learn to be content in whatever situation the Lord has placed you.
The Permanence of Marriage: 7:8-16.
(Read 1 Cor 7:8-16)
Here Paul gives instruction to unmarried and widows (1 Cor 7:8-9). Paul says it is better to marry than to burn with lust. God gives special gift to some to remain single and others to marry. Some Corinthians considered singleness was spiritually superior option and considered divorcing their spouses. There was a false belief that husband and wife who abstain from sexual activities are spiritual. These were misguided ideas and practices. Paul’s advice to married couples was that they should not divorce their unbelieving spouses. If a spouse decides to leave, he or she must remain single or be reconciled. The Bible disapproves divorce except on unrepentant adultery (Mat 19:3-9). If an unbelieving husband is willing to continue to live with wife, she must not divorce him (1 Cor 7:13). The unbelieving spouse is made holy because of the believing spouse. It is possible that she can influence the unbelieving husband and children to the saving grace of God (1 Cor 7:14). This does not mean they automatically born into the family of God but more likely get saved. If an unbelieving spouse insists on leaving the believing spouse he is not under bondage (1 Cor 7:15). Divine standards can’t be imposed upon unbeliever. God has called us to peace. Being spiritual does not mean, out of touch with everyday life experiences. God uses our relationships to bring about his saving purposes in family and in this fallen world (1 Cor 7:16).
Live as You Are Called: 7:17-24.
(Read 1 Cor 7:17-24)
Paul says that when a person gets saved he does not have to change his identity. The most significant thing about a believer is not his marital status, background or economic status. His true identity is that he belongs to Christ and he is bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 7:21-22). When we become Christians, God does not ask us to withdraw from the activities and responsibilities of everyday life. Our vertical relationship is more important than our horizontal relationship. It matters little whether he is free or slave. He has been set free from the bondage of sin to serve the living God. There is no reason why a believer cannot remain faithful to God whether he is single, widowed or married to an unbeliever. So there is no need for a Gentile convert to be circumcised or put away the unbelieving spouse. The Lord promised to give him a new purpose and desire to serve him in whatever circumstances he is placed. So whatever situation you were called, remain there to reveal Christ to others (1 Cor 7:24).
Paul’s Personal Advice: 7:25-40.
(Read 1 Cor 7:25-40)
Paul gives his advice under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In the present circumstance, it is good for a person to remain as Paul is (1 Cor 7:26). This advice should be understood in light of the intense persecution anticipated (1 Cor 15:30-31; 2 Cor 11: 21-33). It is not a sin to marry or to remain single. If you are married, do not end the marriage. Paul was trying to spare them from the troubles that come with marriage (1 Cor 7:28). Paul wants us to know that the time is short, so nothing should keep us from serving God. Whatever relational status we have now, make use of them without becoming too attached to them for the glory of God. Because, these are temporary and the present world is passing away (1 Cor 7:31). Paul wants us to be free from anxieties. It is natural for a married man to be concerned about the welfare of his wife and family. But an unmarried man can spend his time serving Christ with undivided devotion. Likewise, the married woman is concerned about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband (1 Cor 7:32-34). Paul gives this advice for our benefit and to encourage us to do our best for the Lord (1 Cor 7:35). If a man has trouble controlling his passion, he should marry and it is not a sin. One who marries does well and the one who remains single does better (1 Cor 7:38). Marriage is for life, ends only by death. A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if husband dies, she is free to marry a believer in the Lord. In Paul’s judgment she is happier if she remains single. Paul considers that he gives this advice under the Holy Spirit. God’s Word is the true source of understanding the purposes and boundaries of sexual relationship. Let us cast all our anxieties upon Christ because he cares for us (1 Pet 5:7). Pray God to give you the wisdom to live in the world for the glory of God.