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 1 Corinthians Chapter 7 – Part Two

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PostSubject: 1 Corinthians Chapter 7 – Part Two   Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:44 pm

1 Corinthians 7:20-23

Likewise, a Christian’s vocational situation is a matter of little consequence (if status can be changed, well and good; if not, it is not a matter for worry). What matters is that every Christian should realize he is Christ’s slave and needs to render obedience to Him. Every vocation then becomes Christian service performed for the Master (cf. Eph_6:5-Cool. Paul is stressing the fact that if the Lord approved you, who was man to question. Servant means slave. Paul was not approving all slavery, but is teaching that a person who is a slave is still able to obey and honor Christ.
“Care not for it”, meaning in modern society, this seems an insensitive command to those who wrongly assume that freedom is some God given right, rather than a preferable option. “The Lord’s freeman”: In the ways that truly count, no man is freer that a Christian. No bondage is as terrible as that of sin, from which Christ frees the believer.
“Christ’s servant or slave”: Those who are not slaves, but free in the social sense, are in the spiritual sense made slaves of Christ in salvation. (Rom. 6:22) The blood of Christ was the price that was paid.
“Servants of men” is referring to sinful slavery, i.e., becoming slaves to the ways of men, the ways of the world, and of the flesh. This is the slavery about which to be concerned.

1 Corinthians 7:24

The fact that God has called each one of us to a vocation and sought from each one of us to faithful service in that calling has elevated and sanctified both the work and us the worker. A Christian could then “live in peace” (1Co_7:15) in his calling and carry it out as one responsible to God. Your position in society is of little importance to the Lord. Every job that we are called to do should be done unto the Lord. "Abide" means continually dwell. We must not seek to be changed, or moved, until the Lord moves us.

1 Corinthians 7:25

Marriage and Ministry
The basic principle Paul had been setting forth (viz., to continue in one’s present position) was then applied to those who had never married. Apparently this was in response to a question put to him. Paul urged them to remain single, for three reasons: (a) an impending time of distress for Christians (1Co_7:26-28), (b) the imminent return of Christ (1Co_7:29-31), and (c) the opportunity for undistracted service for Christ (1Co_7:32-35).
Virgins here were sexually inexperienced people who had never married. Jesus had never specifically addressed the propriety of marriage per se (cf. Mat_19:10-12, Mat_19:29) but Paul gave his judgment on the issue which they could take as trustworthy counsel. (He of course was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and hence his “judgment” was as authoritative as Christ’s words; cf. 1Co_7:40.) In verses 25-40: Having already established that both marriage and singlness are good and right before the Lord and for the person who has the gift of singleness, that state has many practical advantages. Paul continued to answer the questions about which the Corinthians had written him. Paul gives 6 reasons for never marrying, in relationship to the downside of marriage, but remaining single (virgins).
(1) pressure from the system – verses 25-27; (2) problems of the flesh – verse 28; (3) passing of the world – verses 29-31; (4) preoccupations of marriage – verses 32-35; (5) promises from fathers – verses 36-38; and (6) permanency of marriage – verses 39-40.

1 Corinthians 7:26-28

The present crisis may have referred to persecution then being suffered by the Corinthians (cf. Joh_16:33; 2Ti_3:12; 1Pe_4:12) or to an experience of suffering which Paul anticipated would shortly befall them (in which case the words could be trans. “impending crisis”). In view of his silence in the letter about any present suffering on their part the latter point of view (and trans.) is preferred. Paul is saying, because of all the distress and problems surrounding being a servant of the Lord Jesus at this time, it would probably be better to remain a virgin. Notice, that Paul says for a man to be so. This actually means man or woman.
The present distress: An unspecified, current calamity. Perhaps Paul anticipated the imminent Roman persecutions which began within 10 years after this epistle was written.
Persecution is difficult enough for a single person to endure, but problems and pain are multiplied for those who are married, especially if they have children.
(Cf. 1Co_4:8 which intimate a perceived state of well-being or even positive euphoria.) Still, when persecution came, as Paul felt it surely would, its onslaught could be handled more ably by single than by married persons. The benefits of singleness notwithstanding, married people must remain married. Loosed: means that divorce is in view. However fearsome the thought of martyrdom (cf. 1Co_13:3) might be to a single person, it was doubly so to a married person responsible for a spouse and children. With these conditions in view marriage would not be wrong (if you do marry, you have not sinned), but it would be inexpedient. “Marry, thou hast not sinned”: Marriage is a fully legitimate and godly option for both the divorced (on biblical grounds) and virgins.
“Trouble in the flesh: Trouble means literally, “Pressed together” or under pressure. Marriage can involve conflicts, demands, difficulties, and adjustments that singleness does not, because it presses two fallen people into intimate life that leads to inevitable “trouble”. The troubles or singleness may be exceeded by the conflicts of marriage.

1 Corinthians 7:29-31

The second reason Paul felt the single state was advantageous was the potential it offered for detachment from temporal situations. The phrase the time is short referred to the Lord’s return (cf. Rom_13:11), but it was also a summary philosophy of life for Paul who lived not for the temporary but for the eternal (cf. 2Co_4:18). Paul is encouraging them to use all of their time for the Lord. Paul is not saying that marriage is no longer binding or shouldn’t be treated with seriousness, nor should there be any physical deprivation; but Paul is teaching that marriage should not at all reduce one’s devotion to the Lord and service to Him. He means to keep the eternal priority. This detachment from temporal matters should characterize all Christians but it was more complex for the married (cf. Mar_13:12) for whom, nonetheless, devotion to their Lord should occupy first place in life (Luk_14:26). Paul certainly was not recommending abandoning marital duties (cf. 1Co_7:3-5).
Instead he was calling for a commitment to eternal matters and a corresponding detachment from the institutions, values, and substance of this world which was passing away (1Co_7:31). Paul is saying, all of these things are a temporary situation. They will pass so quickly away. Do not be caught up in the things of the world which pass away so quickly.
The mature Christian does not get so swept up in the emotion of this life, so as to lose motivation, hope and purpose.
Such a commitment was more easily made and enacted by a single person. Paul is trying to impress them that the world, and the things connected with it, are but for a moment in time. They will not always be. Christians are living in this world, but their home is in heaven. Someday we will not be in this world, in fact, someday there will not be a world as we know now. He is saying, you must live here, but don't get too attached.

1 Corinthians 7:32-35

Paul’s third reason was a development of the second. The single state has potentially fewer encumbrances and distractions than the married state, so it more easily facilitates a spirit of undivided devotion to the Lord. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned His followers against letting concern for the material aspects of this life distract them from devotion to God (Mat_6:25-34). The poor widow (Mar_12:44) gave all her material sustenance to God as an act of singular devotion. A married man or woman with a needful concern for the well-being of his family would have been less likely to do that. Paul, again, is showing the difference in working for the Lord as a single person, and working for the Lord as a married person. The single person can devote all of his time to the Lord without distractions and is free from concern about the earthly needs of a spouse and therefore potentially better able to set himself apart exclusively for the Lord’s work. This is the very same statement as above, except the other was speaking of the man, and this is speaking of the woman. Women do like to please their husbands, and that is not a sin. In fact, if they are married, that is what God expects them to do. The married woman can be dedicated to God, but, again, may have less time to fulfill the things of God. The situation illustrates Paul’s point that the single life with its greater simplicity in obligations allows a potentially greater commitment of time, resources, and self to the Lord than would be possible for a married person dutifully carrying out the marital and familial obligations attached to that state. Again, we must remember that these are Paul's thoughts on the subject. We do know that it would be somewhat of a distraction to be married and in the service of God. All things are possible with God. We must fulfill the job that God has for us to do in whatever circumstances we are in at the time He called us. He knows the problems we face, and will help us with the problems. Our part is to be totally obedient to His call.

1 Corinthians 7:36-38

The interpretation and translation of this passage is difficult, as the alternate marginal translation indicates. The issue revolves around whether the indefinite pronoun anyone (1Co_7:36) refers to a father or to a prospective bridegroom. The NIV translators, following most modern commentators, have adopted the latter point of view but have included the traditional interpretation in the margin. The strength of the bridegroom view lies in the fact that it permits a consistent subject for the verbs used throughout the passage, a strength which the NIV translators forfeited by making the virgin the subject of the phrase getting along in years. This is a man’s daughter. Apparently in Corinth some of the fathers intending devotion to the Lord had dedicated their young daughters to the Lord as permanent virgins. “Pass the flower of her age”: Meaning fully matured as a woman capable of child bearing. “Need so require”: When daughters became of marriageable age and insisted on being married, their fathers were free to break the vow and let them marry. This decision was possibly prompted by the need to explain why the bridegroom might be thought to act improperly (i.e., his delay in consummating the marriage may, with her advancing age, adversely affect her chance of ever getting married). The bridegroom view, however, faces a lexical difficulty in the meaning of two verbs (gameō and gamizō) for marriage. In order to sustain the bridegroom view it is necessary to understand the terms as virtual synonyms, meaning “to marry.” But gamizō usually means “give in marriage,” and gameō means simply “marry,” as these words do in the other New Testament passages where they occur together (Mat_24:38; Mar_12:25). This distinction in meaning continued to be recognized even in the second century.
Paul, then, gave advice to a father who in the first-century culture exercised great decision-making authority in matters affecting his family. A father may have decided that his daughter should not marry, possibly due to reasons similar to those Paul had mentioned in 1Co_7:25-34. But in coming to this decision, the father had not reckoned with the fact that his daughter might not be able to remain single. She might not possess the gift of celibacy (1Co_7:7). “No necessity”: This means the father who has kept his daughter a virgin and is not under constraint by the daughter to change his mind, does well to fulfill his desire for her to be singularity devoted to the Lord (verse 34) As with those who remain single (verse 28), the choice was not between right and wrong. Paul is saying that either thing you decide is perfectly alright. You have not sinned either way. Some serve the Lord while they are single others serve the Lord married. Either way, they are pleasing unto the Lord. If so, Paul recommended that the father should not feel obligated to hold to his previous commitment but instead let his daughter marry. However, the father should feel free to follow through on his conviction to keep his daughter single (1Co_7:37) if three conditions were met: (a) He had a settled and firm conviction about the propriety of her celibacy. (b) He was in a position where he was free to exercise his authority, that is, he was not a slave in which case the master could determine the daughter’s destiny. (c) He was under no compulsion from evidence which suggested that his daughter was not able to remain single but required marriage instead. If these conditions were met, then the father did well not to give her in marriage.

1 Corinthians 7:39-40

Remarriage and Widows
Paul’s earlier counsel to widows (1Co_7:8-9) was to remain single. In that previous context, however, he acknowledged the fact that not all were equipped to do so. The only constraint Paul placed on a widow who sought remarriage was the obligation to marry another Christian (he must belong to the Lord) — an obligation which though previously unstated, he no doubt meant to apply to all who sought marriage partners. “Bound by the law”: God’s law designed marriage for life. It is so permanent that the disciples thought it may be better not to marry. “Only in the Lord”: That is, free to marry a believer only. This is true for all believers who marry or remarry. (See 2 Cor. 6:14-16). That point alone, however, affected a widow’s options. Within that condition she might choose whom she wanted and find with that husband great happiness, though Paul added that in his judgment she would be happier if she remained single. Paul is saying {in his judgment} that she is usually happier with the memory of her first love, than trying to start over again and find a new mate. She will have more time to serve the Lord, if she does not remarry. This advice was not only from Paul’s heart but also guided by the Spirit of God, who equipped both single and married Christians (1Co_7:7) for their respective roles.
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1 Corinthians Chapter 7 – Part Two
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