1 Corinthians 7:1-24 … TEACHING ON SINGLENESS, MARRIAGE, SEPARATION, AND DIVORCE.
Q.1. What issues was the apostle addressing with the Corinthian church? How do we reconcile the idea of touching a woman with the practice of kissing in the church? What makes marriage helpful? – (1 Cor.7:1-2 c.f. 1 Cor.16:20 etc.) =
Q.2. What sexual responsibility must each spouse fulfill? Is there any justification for sexual abuse? When is sexual abstinence in marriage permissible? Why is it not advisable? – (1 Cor.7:3-5) =
Q.3. When is it better to marry than stay single? Was Paul addressing normal circumstances? What is taught about the separation of believers and unbelievers? Why should we be cautious to separate? – (1 Cor.7:6-16) =
Q.4. What point is Paul making? Why should we keep to the status in which we were called? How does belonging to Christ change everything? – (1 Cor.7:17-24) =
Principles for Marriage
7 Now 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.[a] 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.
10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.
12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you[b] to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
Live as You Are Called
17 Only let each person lead the life[c] that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 21 Were you a bondservant[d] when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. 24 So, brothers,[e] in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.
Q.1. What issues was the apostle addressing with the Corinthian church? How do we reconcile the idea of touching a woman with the practice of kissing in the church? What makes marriage helpful? – (1 Cor.7:1-2 c.f. 1 Cor.16:20 etc.) = The context of the chapter suggests that Paul was giving principles for interpersonal relationships. It appears some Corinthians were leaving their unbelieving spouses and pairing up with other believers. He also discusses the thorny question of singleness for believers (1 Cor.7:17,20,24). The apostles upheld the general cultural practice of sharing a holy kiss so physical contact was not taboo in the churches (Rom.16:16; 1 Cor.16:20; 2 Cor.13:12;1 Thes.5:26; 1 Pet.5:14). But here Paul acknowledges the danger of sensual physical touch that is a prelude to sexual expression (1 Cor.7:1). He was well aware of the danger of falling into sexually immoral (Gk: porneias) behaviour and so advised – But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband (1 Cor.7:2). Marriage reduces the temptation of sexual immorality.
Q.2. What sexual responsibility must each spouse fulfill? Is there any justification for sexual abuse? When is sexual abstinence in marriage permissible? Why is it not advisable? – (1 Cor.7:3-5) = Jesus reinforced God’s original intention for marriage when He quoted from Genesis – 4 … that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? (Mt.19:4-5). Consequently, both the male and female have conjugal responsibilities to each other (1 Cor.7:3-4). The decision to abstain sexually must be by mutual agreement – … so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Cor.7:5). Whenever spouses stay apart it increases sexual temptation in its various forms. But there is nothing in the Bible to excuse sexual abuse since God has not called us for the purpose of impurity (c.f. 1 Thes.4:3-7).
Q.3. When is it better to marry than stay single? Was Paul addressing normal circumstances? What is taught about the separation of believers and unbelievers? Why should we be cautious to separate? – (1 Cor.7:6-16) = Paul was probably a widower and seemed to have been part of the Sanhedrin (1 Cor.7:8; 9:5; Phil.3:5-6). He understood the advantage of singleness. The unmarried can give an undivided focus on pleasing the Lord and undistracted devotion to Christ rather than pleasing their spouse (1 Cor.7:32-35). Nevertheless, he accepted that to pursue singleness required a special gift from God (1 Cor.7:7). Furthermore – if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion (1 Cor.7:9). Paul also alludes to the prevailing persecution that made singleness a better option – I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is (1 Cor.7:26). The Lord had given direct teaching on some matters (1 Cor.7:10). Other issue were not addressed by Him and Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gave his direction on how these were to be dealt with (1 Cor.7:6,8,12). Christ taught that a spouse should not leave the marriage (Mt.19:3-9; 1 Cor.7:10). Leaving a marriage is permissible provided that person does not remarry (1 Cor.7:11). He tells the Corinthians that a believer is not to send the unbelieving spouse away – Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace (1 Cor.7:15). Paul here seems to give the case for divorce when a spouse abandons their marriage covenant. He advises caution in breaking up a marriage because a believer can have a sanctifying influence over the unbelieving spouse (1 Cor.7:16).
Q.4. What point is Paul making? Why should we keep to the status in which we were called? How does belonging to Christ change everything? – (1 Cor.7:17-24) = Paul writes to urge the Corinthians to stay in the marital status they have been called to – as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And so I direct in all the churches (1 Cor.7:17 c.f. 1 Cor.7:20, 24). This he applies to those that are married and those that are single. Nevertheless, he accepts that not all are called to stay single. He uses the example of circumcision to show that ‘to be or not to be’ is of little importance. Rather – … what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God (1 Cor.7:19). In other words, being single is not superior to being married. What matters is pleasing God. Though Paul accepted that it was preferable to be free from slavery both slaves and those that are free can equally serve and please God (1 Cor.7:21). The fact is that Christ has changed the status of all believers – 22 For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men (1 Cor.7:22-23). The essential issue is how God views us not how others or even society views us. Regardless of our status, we should live lives that are pleasing to God.
(Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)
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