1 Corinthians 7 – 2019-11-14
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1 CORINTHIANS 7 – COMMENTARY
“With the beginning of chapter 7, Paul makes a major structural transition in the letter, as he turns to address issues that have been raised explicitly by the Corinthians in a letter to him.”
“By his own arrangement of the topics and material in this letter, Paul has delayed a treatment of the Corinthians’ concerns until he has two building blocks in place. The first (chaps. 1-4), by its back-to-basics push, regrounds the Corinthians in the core of the gospel, reminds them of who they are in relation to that gospel and to the world, and calls them to end their fractiousness and, following the example of their apostle, reclaim their unity around the cross…
“The other building block is chaps. 5-6. It, too, is a lesson in fundamentals, rehearsing as it does the nature of the community, identifying how believers differ from the world and worldly practices, and attempting to clarify what is appropriately treated within the community and what should be left outside it.”
v.1-6 “Paul accomplishes several things here. First, without explicitly attacking their maxim [v.1b], Paul distances himself from it on several counts and in the process offers a very different picture of marriage: (1) He does not restrict his focus to what men should do; (2) he affirms that sexuality in marriage is not only appropriate but necessary for proper self-control; and (3) he treats men and women evenhandedly and claims that a fundamental reciprocity should be present in their exercise of their sexuality…”
v.1-2 “good for a man not to marry. Because of the crisis at Corinth (v.26). Elsewhere (Eph 5:22-33; Col 3:18-19; 1Ti 3:2, 12; 5:14) Paul spoke strongly in favor of the married state, and in 1 Tim 4:1-3 he taught that forbidding to marry would be a sign of the end-time apostasy. He refutes this idea in v.2 by stating that sexual relations have their proper expression in marriage.”
v.7 “To be sure, Paul himself is unmarried and—by his own account—in control of his own sexual impulses, so that he does not need the physical satisfaction of marriage. Even though he says in verse 7 that he wants everyone to be ‘as I myself am,’ he simultaneously recognizes that different people have different gifts and that not everyone is called by God to celibacy. This statement may imply that marriage itself is also a gift (charisma) from God, though Paul does not say so explicitly.”
v.8 “The word ‘unmarried’ (agamoi) is used here to refer specifically to widowers, not in a generic fashion to include all those who are not married.”
vv.10-11 “In contrast to the counsel of verses 8-9, this teaching is not merely advice: it is commanded by the Lord himself. This is one of the very few places that Paul appeals explicitly to a teaching of Jesus in support of a directive to his churches.”
“[P]roponents of divorce as a legitimate last resort in various instances must admit that this ‘way out’ is adopted far more often than God could ever desire. Those contemplating divorce often feel that they have exhausted all alternatives long before they have really done so. Supportive Christian friends, fellowship groups, and churches need to come alongside couples well before they reach the point of no return to encourage, nurture, confront, and suggest options that the couples themselves may not have considered. Those couples, in turn, must be open to exploring such options, not least of which is individual and joint counseling from qualified Christian therapists.”
v.14 “‘Sanctified’ and ‘holy’ cannot here mean ‘saved,’ as verse 16 proves. Rather they refer to ‘the moral and spiritual impact of the life of the believer’ on the rest of the family, making those other family members ‘set apart in a very special place… as God’s object of devotion.’”
“The assertions that believers may sanctify their spouses and their children complement what has been noted about good and bad models and their importance in the communal life of faith. Here we see that one’s action, one’s comportment is not just a private transaction between the individual and God; what one does and how one lives one’s life have the potential to corrode and harm others (cf. 8:10) or to elevate and encourage others (cf. 14:3). Faith and the morality in which it expresses itself, as Paul sees them, are never totally or simply private.”
v.16 “And verse 16 reminds us that an evangelistic motive is not adequate for dating or marrying, because there is no guarantee that it will succeed. Certainly Christians need to have close non-Christian friends, if for no other reason than to make their witness credible… But a successful marriage demands shared commitments that can be extremely difficult for a believer committed to serving Christ wholeheartedly and a non-Christian unwilling to convert.”
vv.17-24 “The purpose of all this, let us remember, is to function as an analogy in support of Paul’s argument that the married should not abandon their marriages and that the unmarried should not necessarily be urgently seeking partners. For many readers at the end of the twentieth century, the analogy may be more opaque and troubling than the point it is supposed to explain, but presumably Paul’s original audience in Corinth would have found it relatively clear and reassuring. Regardless of our evaluation of this particular argument, we can understand Paul’s basic advice: relax and ‘remain with God’ (7:24) wherever you find yourself.”
v.17,20,24 “Should we always accept our situation as assigned by God? Paul was more concerned about the attitudes of believers than their circumstances. A Christian should not need a change in circumstance to find spiritual contentment; trust in God fits all circumstances. Nevertheless, change can be good. If our attitude is right, we should be ready to seize opportunities to improve our circumstances (vv.21-28).”
vv.17-21 “Paul’s relatively quietistic counsel to “remain in the situation where called” (7:24) can be mistaken as a call to inaction, to do nothing, or even to embrace the status quo. There are circumstances that the gospel simply cannot abide and we must be unmistakably clear about that. For example, no one should remain in a physically or emotionally abusive situation. The gospel does not call for one to do that. In a similar way, Paul’s counsel to ‘remain’ should not be used as a justification for not seeking better circumstances for oneself and an improvement of one’s circumstances.”
v.22-23 “Through his death Christ has paid the price to redeem those whom he has called. The result of this transaction is a reversal of relative status within Christ’s household. The slave becomes ‘a freed person belonging to the Lord,’ whereas the one who was free when called becomes a ‘slave of Christ’ (v.22); thus, the former slave is accorded the higher rank. All, regardless of worldly social status, are now under the authority of Christ. Thus, Paul insists that those who have been ‘bought’ out of slavery by Christ’s death should not ‘become slaves of human masters.’ He may intend in part a literal sense here, but he certainly means also that they should live their lives, whatever their outward station, as people devoted to the service of Christ.”
v.25-28 “Paul is scrupulously fair in this passage. He is not warning against marriage as such, but against the particular pressures and distractions which are the stock-in-trade of married people. He therefore gives advice to all those who are thinking, or planning, towards marriage.”
vv.29-31 “All Christians should therefore sense an urgency to serving the Lord, caused by the uncertainty of the time of the end, after which point it will no longer be possible to win any more people to Christ or to disciple them to maturity. Paul is well aware that distractions of marriage may temper this urgency. So those who choose to wed must not become so preoccupied with their families that they can no longer effectively serve Christ (v.29b). The same is true with other normal human activities—celebrations and wakes, commerce and shopping (vv.30-31). All are legitimate endeavors, but all remain fleeting. The Christian should therefore be less involved in the affairs of this world than the non-Christian.”
v.29 “How could a married man live as if he had no wife? Paul makes it clear that married Christians should fulfill their marital obligations (vv.3-5). But he wants us to be unattached to the things of the world. He wants our attitudes to acknowledge something ultimately more significant than marriage—our final allegiance is to God.”
vv.32-35 “Verses 32-35 offer crucial guidance for people in any time and culture trying to decide whether or not to marry. Instead of adopting the countless other criteria society suggests, Christians should ask themselves in which state, single or married, they can best serve the Lord. Michael Green recommends asking the following question, ‘Could I be equally useful to the Lord if married, or would it inevitably curtail my usefulness to him?’ He then comments, ‘The quantity of time available for Christian involvement may be reduced once we are married, but its quality may be enhanced. At all events, I have no right to marry unless I have honestly faced the question of the impact marriage will have on my Christian life and service.’”
 Richard B. Hays, “1 Corinthians,” Interpretation (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997) 110.
 Paul J. Sampley, “The First Letter to the Corinthians,” The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. X (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002) 868.
 Paul J. Sampley, “The First Letter to the Corinthians,” The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. X (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002) 872.
 Kenneth Barker, The New International Version Study Bible Notes, Pradis [Software] (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995)
 Richard B. Hays, “1 Corinthians,” Interpretation (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997) 117.
 Richard B. Hays, “1 Corinthians,” Interpretation (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997) 118.
 Richard B. Hays, “1 Corinthians,” Interpretation (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997) 119-120.
 Craig Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994) 142.
 Craig Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994) 135.
 Paul J. Sampley, “The First Letter to the Corinthians,” The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. X (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002) 878.
 Craig Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994) 144.
 Richard B. Hays, “1 Corinthians,” Interpretation (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997) 126.
 Quest Study Bible, study notes (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994) 1639.
 Paul J. Sampley, “The First Letter to the Corinthians,” The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. X (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002) 883.
 Richard B. Hays, “1 Corinthians,” Interpretation (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997) 125.
 John R.W. Stott, The Message of 1 Corinthians (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1985) 133.
 Craig Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994) 152.
 Quest Study Bible, study notes (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994) 1639-1640.
 Craig Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994) 155.
1 Corinthians 7:1-9 (ESV)
1Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
6 Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.
8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am.
9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
God [What truths about God’s person, activity or character does the text reveal?]
Apply and Obey [How does today’s text apply to me? How will I obey or respond to the truths from today’s text?]