(i) To The Married(7:1-24)

Map of Corinth / Map of Corinth's Location / Picture of the Temple of Apollo / Outline Chart/ Read The Letter


(a) Reconstruction of the Problem.

We need to understand the actual problem that there was to fully understand the implication of this section to us today.

Read verse one again. What does "It is good for a man not to TOUCH A WOMAN" mean ? (click on the links for the Greek meanings of the words) - think first.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ANSWER.

Who's view was this ? (click on the answer you think is right).

(A) It was Paul's view and his teaching to them.

(B) It was the Corinthian's View which they had writtne to Paul.

(C) It was the view of the Greeks.

Piecing together what we read in verses 1 to 5 we see that spouses have been depriving their partner sexually (verse 5), leading the other to fall into sexual immorality (Verse 2). One possible scenario is that some wives in the Church were refusing to have sexual relations with their husbands, leading the husbands to go into the temple prostitutes (see The Case of Fornication). The possible reason why the women would deprive their mate in such a way goes again to their Gnostic view of the body (the extreme of abstinence - see the diagram again by clicking here).

Some women were actually wanting to divorce their husbands because of this wrong philosophy (and possible some men too wanted divorce due to their wife's denying him sexual pleasure).

(b) Paul's answer to the Corinthians.

Try to complete the main point sentences below for each section of verses (only click on the hidden word once you think you know)....

SECTION 1: Verses 1-7: Read this section again now.

 

1Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

2Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.

3Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.

4The 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.

5Do 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.

6But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment.

7For 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.

Marriage partners should not forbid XXXXXX unless by XXXXXX. This is because God sees man and woman as MUTUAL in marriage (as brothers and sisters).

Notice in verse 6 Paul is quick to say that he's not commanding them to do what he says. It is a 'gray-area' of Scripture (Paul commands where there is strong Biblical support), but Paul realizes that there is God's wisdom in what he says.

SECTION 2: Verses 8-9: Read this section again now.

 

8But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am;

9but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

XXXXXX is best for the widow or widower, unless the XXXXXX is too strong, then XXXXXX is best.

It is important to note that this section is in the context of Paul talking to those who have been married before - when he says that the unmarried and widows better remain single he's not saying it to all who are sinlge, rather those who have been married but are now alone. Many people misuse this Scripture out of context today to justify their 'anti-marriage' stance.

SECTION 3: Verses 10-11: Read this section again.

 

10Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband.

11But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.

Women should adhere to the teaching of Jesus and not XXXXXX.

In verse 6 Paul did not command but here he does. He commands that Christian husbands and wives do not take the initiative to divorce their spouse. He can firmly command this here as there is clear teaching from Jesus on this matter (Matthew 5:32, Mark 10:11-12).

Scripturally, the only reason a Christian can divorce is on the grounds of adultery or an unbelieving partner pushing for divorce (see next section).

SECTION 4: Verses 12-16: Read this section again.

 

12But 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.

13And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him.

14For 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.

15But 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.

16For 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?

A Christian should not XXXXXX an unbelieving partner unless the unbelieving partner XXXXXX.

Notice here that Paul is not commanding directly from the Lord (verse 12) but is recommending this course of action (there will be exceptions). The main aim of a believing spouse who has an unbelieving spouse is to see then saved and believing in Jesus. Running out on such a relationship would be denying our evangelistic responsibilities. The main aim of the Christian in such a marriage is 'peace' (only found in Jesus, the Prince of Peace).

What does verse 14 mean ? See Matthew Henry's comments on this verse.

SECTION 5: Verses 17-24: Read this section again.

 

17But 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.

18Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised.

19Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.

20Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.

21Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it.

22For 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.

23You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.

24Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.

The main point of this section can only be seen in the light of the preceding section.

There were obviously Christians in the church at Corinth who were desiring to or actually getting divorces from their unbelieving spouses. Paul here argues that they should remain in their 'calling' (verse 20 and 24) in which they were called as Chistians. That is, if they were married when they became Christians they are not to divorce if their partner is still an unbeliever.

Paul relates this to remaining uncircumcised (i.e. a gentile becoming a believer is not expected to be circumcised) if you become a Christian as such, and remaining as a bond servant if you are one when you become a Christian (unless you have a legitimate opportunity to be free). Above all else, what matters is 'keeping the commandments of God' (verse 19) - by divorcing their unbelieving spouse they were actually transgressing Jesus' commands!


In the light of the above, answer the following questions (only click on the answer when you have worked out what your answer will be)....

(1) Why did Jesus say "No Divorce" ? ANSWER.

(2) When is divorce and option according to this section ? ANSWER

(3) Generally, should a Christian ever initiate a divorce ? Yes or No ?

(4) Does Paul see man as GREATER than the woman ? Yes or No ?

 

Now you are ready to move onto SECTION TWO: To the 'Not Yet Married'.


Copyright 2000 Gibson Productions