1 Corinthians Chapter Seven
I. Content of the Chapter
Christians’ Views About Marriage
A. The reasons for marriage (v.1-9):
1. Marriage can avoid sexual immorality (v.1-2).
2. Therefore, husband and wife should deprive one another (v.3-5).
3. If one has the gift of not marrying, it will be better for him to not marry (v.6-7).
4. If a widower or a widow cannot exercise self-control, let him or her marry (v.8-9).
B. He who has married should not divorce his wife (v.10-16):
1. Divorce is forbidden according to the truth (v.10-11).
2. If one’s spouse has not believed the Lord, he cannot divorce his spouse (v.12-16).
C. One should remain in the state in which he was called (v.17-24):
1. Let the circumcised not become uncircumcised. And let the circumcised not be circumcised (v. 17-19).
2. A slave should not importune for liberty (v.20-24).
D. It is good for a man to remain as he is (v.25-38):
1. It is good for a man to remain as he is because of the present distress (v.25-26).
2. Marriage is not sin, but those who are involved will have trouble in the flesh (v.27-28).
3. The form of this world is passing away. Even those who have wives should be as though they had none (v.29-31).
4. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord. He who is married cares about his spouse (v.32-35).
5. He who keeps his virgin should stand steadfast in his heart and no necessity, but has power over his own will (v.36-38).
E. The widower can marry again, but should be married to one who is in the Lord (v.39-40).
II. Verse by Verse Commentary
1Cor. 7:1 “Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.”
YLT: “And concerning the things of which ye wrote to me: good for a man not to touch a woman,”
Meaning of Words: “touch”: attach oneself to, fasten to;
the things of which you wrote to me”, it indicated that the church at
“It is good for a man not to touch a woman”, “a man not to touch a woman”, it is not general contact, but physical touch between a man and a woman. “Good”, it is not absolutely good in the original, but properly good or praiseworthily good. Probably, such diction may have something to do with the background that the extreme Stoic at that time thought keeping the virgin was “absolutely good”. Though Paul remained as he was, he was not a stoic (see 1Tim. 4:3; Col. 2:23).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The life that we have obtained by grace is the life of God, and has not difference between male and female. However, since we still live in the flesh, we have still the possibility of being stumbled. Therefore, the sphere of the fellowship among brothers and sisters in the church should be bounded, lest be tempted by Satan.
2) Though the attraction of the opposite sex is of the creation of God, it is still of the old creation. Our conduct in the new creation is not ruled by the old creation. Besides, the new creation should dominate the old creation. Believers should seek the proper answer to the matter of sex according to the perspective of the new creation.
1Cor. 7:2 “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.”
YLT: “and because of the whoredom let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her proper husband;”
Literal Meaning: “nevertheless, because of sexual immorality”, the words aimed at the Corinthians among whom sexual immorality prevailed at that time. It was an urgent problem that how to prevent sexual immorality at that time.
“Let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband”, it shows that monogamy (namely, the custom of being married to only one husband or wife) has the effect of avoiding sexual immorality.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The normal marriage life can decrease the chances of committing sexual immorality. Conversely, the passionate lusts may increase the chances of temptations.
2) A husband or a wife should abide whom God appoints to “him or her”. If he or she loves or relies on others besides the one of him or her, he or she has committed the sexual immorality (see John 4:18).
3) The church should not love or rely on others besides her husband, the only Christ, for Christ refuses all that is outside of him to be His wife, but only “that is of Himself, of His flesh, and of His bone” (Eph. 5:30), namely, the pure constitution of Himself and His full “wife” ---- the church.
1Cor. 7:3 “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.”
YLT: “to the wife let the husband the due benevolence render, and in like manner also the wife to the husband;”
Literal Meaning: “let the husband render to his wife the affection due her”, “render … due”, pay the debt; so they should not deprive one another (see v.5). In other words, a husband should consider how to let his wife satisfied and joyful, but not be self-cantered.
“And likewise also the wife to her husband”, the blessed marriage life is built on thinking of the other one, for it is not a unilateral matter. Therefore, Paul calls for the husband and wife should both assume their responsibility.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Let the husband or the wife render to the other one the affection due him or her on the matter of sexual life ---- honor one another and adapt oneself to the other one. They should neither indulge their lusts, nor be unwilling to do what he or she is bound to do in the marriage life.
2) Paul here mentions the right for the wife, and that for the husband later, for the right tends to be ignored. Most of the problems among a husband and his wife are caused by the husband.
1Cor. 7:4 “The 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. ”
YLT: “the wife over her own body hath not authority, but the husband; and, in like manner also, the husband over his own body hath not authority, but the wife.”
Literal Meaning: “the wife does not have authority over her own body”, a woman has totally lost her authority over her own body after marriage.
“But the husband does”, it has two aspects of meaning: 1) it is within the power of a husband to have any reasonable request of his wife for her body; 2) a wife must not have any other relationship outside of her husband.
“And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does”, “likewise”, it shows that the principle for the wife is also fit for the husband. There is not the so-called custom that male is superior to female.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The normal and perfect sexual life of the couple is created and arranged by God. We should never regard it unclean.
2) The bodies of the husband and wife are for each other only. The second is not allowed to interfere with. The couple should both respect the marriage (see Heb. 13:4) and keep the holiness of their bodies for each other.
3) Paul here firstly mentions that the wife does not have authority over her own body, for the wife often takes the refusal of the request of her husband as the weapon to discipline him. It should not be thus.
4) The true oneness of one couple is losing the authority and liberty of each one and humor the other one ---- “have authority over her or his own body, but the other one does”. It is likewise in the church if we desire to bear the testimony of oneness. Whenever we are unwilling to sacrifice personal liberty and humor brothers or sisters, we have destroyed the reality of the oneness of the church.
1Cor. 7:5 “Do 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. ”
YLT: “Defraud not one another, except by consent for a time, that ye may be free for fasting and prayer, and again may come together, that the Adversary may not tempt you because of your incontinence;”
Meaning of Words: “give yourselves to”: be at leisure for, be vacant;
Literal Meaning: “do not deprive one another”, “deprive”: it means that one is unwilling to do his duty of sexual life in marriage.
“Except with consent for a time that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer”, this verse points out three conditions for “separation” of the husband and wife: 1) the consent of the both sides ---- “with consent”; 2) it is “for a time”; 3) the purpose ---- “give oneself to fasting and prayer”;
“And come together again”, it shows that it is an abnormal phenomenon that the husband and the wife separate from one another for a long time.
“So that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control”, any abnormal lifestyle in marriage may give room to the devil.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) We should not be affected by anyone or anything in prayer. Therefore, if one has great matter to pray, he should temporarily put aside anyone or anything that must affect our prayer, and even leave the closest spouse for a time.
2) Our adversary devil as a roaring lion walks about seeking whom he may devour (1Pet. 5:8). Therefore, we should take heed of it and not give any room to it (Eph. 4:27), lest it creep in.
1Cor. 7:6 “But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment.”
YLT: “and this I say by way of concurrence -- not of command,”
Literal Meaning: it means that that one marries is not a commandment, but a concession. The true desire of Paul seemed to be that they would better not marry (see v.7).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The will of God towards believers have two forms: one desires us to keep, and the other one consents us to do (see Matt. 19:8). We’d better take the mind of God as ours instead of being satisfied with the concession of God.
2) “Not as a commandment”, it suggests that the apostle has the authority to command believers. When the servant of the Lord has really knowN the Lord’s will to us and has firm assurance in his spirit of one thing that is helpful, not evil to us, he can even teach them with a commanding tone.
1Cor. 7:7 “For 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. ”
YLT: “for I wish all men to be even as I myself ; but each his own gift hath of God, one indeed thus, and one thus.”
Literal Meaning: “for I wish that all men were even as I myself”, Paul was single when he wrote this epistle. Someone thought Paul might have married and yet his wife died early and he never married again, so he was so familiar with the need between men and women.
“But each one has his own gift from God”, “gift from God”, it here especially refers to the gift of remaining singlehood (see Matt. 19:10-11)
“One in this manner and another in that”, one is the gift that one does not marry and another is general gift, which is insufficient to overcome the lusts in the flesh and has the possibility of being tempted by Satan (see v.5, 9).
Controversial Clarification: according to this verse, the Catholicism raised “two classes” among the people of God: one was the clergyman class ---- they had the gift of being virgins, e.g. the Catholic fathers and nuns, who did not marry all their life; the other one was the common believer’s class ---- they had not received the gift of being virgins and could marry freely, but could never be Catholic fathers or nuns. It was wrong for the reasons as follows:
1) The instinct of “sex” created by God to man was regarded unhallowed, so the Catholicism proposed the abstinent monarchist, inserting a kind of unhealthy view into believers, who even thought the sexual relationship in marriage was unholy and felt shameful and sinful to sexual relationship of the husband and wife. However, such view was opposite to that of the Scriptures. And they were both naked, Man and his wife, and were not ashamed (Gen. 2:25).
fact, many of those clergymen had not gift of keeping virginity and only kept
the form of not marrying before men because of the rules. And they actually
committed various shocking sins in secret. In the past 2000 years, many
scandals were hidden by the conservative power of the church. However, fire can
never be wrapped in paper. In the past decades, especially in
3) It does not agree with the history of the church if we equal the gift of being virgins with spiritual gifts. Most of the twelve apostles had married (see 1Cor. 9:5).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) No matter what the preachers teach, they should set themselves as examples, and should not be like scribes and the Pharisees, who say and do not (see Matt. 23:3).
2) He who remains as he is does not rely on his will only, but shall also have the gift of God.
3) Here, it points out a principle ---- one should not imitate others beyond the grace in the Lord when following the Lord. Or else, it will become worse. Any choice of spiritual things should be clearly and naturally pressed by the Lord in us. Otherwise, man can not persevere in doing it and thus fall into worse end.
4) On one hand, Paul directly spoke of his own opinion and gave his testimony. On the other hand, he did not force others to imitate him at all and yet exhorted everyone to do according to what they had “received” before God ---- “as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one” (v.17). This is the attitude that one who leads others should have ---- help others sincerely but do not force or rule them.
1Cor. 7:8 “But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am;”
YLT: “And I say to the unmarried and to the widows: it is good for them if they may remain even as I ;”
Literal Meaning: “the unmarried” is male in the original, so refers to the widower, not the one who has not married, for the matter concerning those who have not married will not be mentioned until verse 25.
“It is good for them if they remain even as I am”, if Paul had married in the past, he might remain as he was after losing his wife (see the commentary of verse seven).
1Cor. 7:9 “but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. ”
YLT: “and if they have not continence -- let them marry, for it is better to marry than to burn;”
Literal Meaning: “but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry.” ---- “self-control”, it is like that every athlete who is going to partake in competition is temperate in his food and all things (see 1Cor. 9:25). Here, it indicates that if one can not control his passion in the flesh, it is better to marry for him.
“For it is better to marry than to burn with passion”, “burn with passion”, it refers to the condition that one is harassed by lusts and cannot suffer it. If the sexual desire of a single one is strong like this, to marry is the best choice for him.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) If one cannot exercise “self-control” or even feel “burnt with passion”, it shows that he has not received the gift of not marrying from God (see v.7).
2) One who has not the gift of not marrying, it is hard to avoid “being burnt with passion” and becoming vexatious. If so, it is better to marry for him so as not to be overcome by temptation without “self-control”.
1Cor. 7:10 “Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband.”
YLT: “and to the married I announce -- not I, but the Lord -- let not a wife separate from a husband:”
Literal Meaning: “now to the married”, it begins to mention believers who have married.
“Yet not I but the Lord”, that believers cannot divorce is a clear and obvious teaching that the Lord declares (see Matt. 5:32; 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18). Therefore, Paul says it is the Lord’s commandment, not his.
“A wife is not to depart from her husband”, “depart from”, it means divorce.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Prophets speak for the Lord according to two points: one is the abiding words (logos) of God in the Scriptures and the other is the transient words (rhema) in prophets from the Holy Spirit. However, the transient words of the Spirit will not be against the words of the Scriptures or its principles. Therefore, we can know whether the words of the prophets are of God according to the Scriptures.
should let the words of Christ dwell in us richly in all wisdom so that we can
teach and admonish one another when it is necessary (see
3) If the preachers are joined to the Lord unto one (see 1Cor. 6:17), the Lord will speak in them, and their words are the Lord’s words.
1Cor. 7:11 “But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. ”
YLT: “but and if she may separate, let her remain unmarried, or to the husband let her be reconciled, and let not a husband send away a wife.”
Meaning of Words: “depart”: leave, separate;
Literal Meaning: “but even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried”, “if she does depart”, it does not mean divorce is allowed in the Scriptures, but that one has departed from her spouse when he does not know the truth. “Let her remain unmarried”, it shows that she must not marry again.
“Or be reconciled to her husband”, since God does not accept divorce, it is better for the husband and wife to be reconciled to each other again.
“And a husband is not to divorce his wife”, the request for the wife is also for husband.
1Cor. 7:12 “But 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.”
YLT: “And to the rest I speak -- not the Lord -- if any brother hath a wife unbelieving, and she is pleased to dwell with him, let him not send her away;”
Literal Meaning: “but to the rest I, not the Lord, say”, “the rest” refers the one who spouse does not believe the Lord (see v.12-16). “Not the Lord, say”, the points that the Lord had not left such teaching when He was on the earth. The following teaching is given by the apostle Paul. Since he expresses his opinions after he has known the principle of the Lord’s works, under the inspiration and guidance of the Spirit, his opinions are finally admitted by God and are recorded in the Scriptures as the words of God.
“If any brother has a wife who does not believe”, such marriage might be formed when the believer had not been saved. However, many times today, believers may marry those who do not believe because of loving them or having not found satisfying brothers or sisters.
“And she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her”, though believers in the New Testament are encouraged not to be diversely yoked with unbelievers (see v.39; 2Cor. 6:14-15), those who have married are also not encouraged to divorce their spouses. It is different from the rule in the Old Testament that the Jews were not allowed to marry the Gentiles (see Ezra 10:2-3; Neh. 10:30).
Enlightenment in the Word: the principle of “incarnation” in the New Testament is that the Lord’s words are spoken by men. Apparently, it is man that speaks, but it is the Lord that speaks in reality. Believers should listen to the words of the Lord’s servants with the attitude of receiving the Lord’s words.
1Cor. 7:13 “And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him.”
YLT: “and a woman who hath a husband unbelieving, and he is pleased to dwell with her, let her not send him away;”
1Cor. 7:14 “For 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.”
YLT: “for the unbelieving husband hath been sanctified in the wife, and the unbelieving wife hath been sanctified in the husband; otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.”
Literal Meaning: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife”, “is sanctified”, be separated unto God; when one of a couple has believed the Lord and the other one has not, the believer has still been separated unto God and is of God. And the spouse who does not believe is of the believer, so he or she has indirectly been separated unto God and is of God.
Another meaning is that the sexual relationship in marriage is allowed by God and will not become unclean because one has not believed the Lord.
“And the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband”, God treats brothers and sisters alike, for there is not the difference between male and female in the new man (see Gal. 3:28).
“Otherwise your children would be unclean”, if the matter of sexual intercourse is unclean, the children will also be unclean.
“But now they are holy”, “holy”, it does not mean they are holy in spirit, but that all the children that believers have borne in lawful marriage are admitted by God and have been separated unto God.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Since the family members are sanctified by God, we should pray for their being saved and entreat God to save them and make them become real “saints”.
2) Believers should have spiritual insight concerning their family members, seeing that they have been separated by God. Such insight will produce faith (see Heb. 11:1) and faith may give birth to fruit.
1Cor. 7:15 “But 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. ”
YLT: “And, if the unbelieving doth separate himself -- let him separate himself: the brother or the sister is not under servitude in such , and in peace hath God called us;”
Meaning of Words: “under bondage”: bond, restrict, enslave;
Literal Meaning: “but if the unbeliever departs, let him depart”, “the unbeliever” refers to the wife who does not believe (v.12) or the husband who does not believe (v.13). It is said that when the one who does not believe actively proposes the request of divorce, if the believer receives passively, he or she needs not to assume the responsibility of breaking the marriage.
“A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases”, “not under bondage”, be not restricted by the rule that “believers should not divorce”.
“But God has called us to peace”, “peace” is not only external peace, but also internal peace. God has saved us, so we can enjoy the peace (see Eph. 2:15-17) with others as well as the rest in spirit for we have been reconciled to God. No matter what things, even like the great thing of divorce, we should also let the peace of Christ preside in our hearts (Col. 3:15).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) God does not desire His children to regard the words of His servants as dead regulations to keep or live under the bondage, but desires that the children of God can walk by the peaceful feelings of the Spirit when they deal with those matters.
2) We should seek peace with all in any circumstance. If there are believers’ family members that have not believed the Lord, what is most important for us is to pursue peace with them. We should not be hostile to them because we have believed the Lord, but treat them well so as to let them be moved because of our good works and thus be willing to turn the Lord.
1Cor. 7:16 “For 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? ”
YLT: “for what, hast thou known, O wife, whether the husband thou shalt save? or what, hast thou known, O husband, whether the wife thou shalt save?”
Literal Meaning: “for how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband?” ---- It indicates that the unbelieving spouse may believe the Lord and be saved in the future.
Enlightenment in the Word: God desires that all men should be saved (1Tim. 2:4). And he must be more willing to save the spouses of believers. How can we give up the chances?
1Cor. 7:17 “But 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. ”
YLT: “if not, as God did distribute to each, as the Lord hath called each -- so let him walk; and thus in all the assemblies do I direct:”
Literal Meaning: “but as God has distributed to each one”, it indicates that the spouses of believers are distributed by God and believers should not desire to change. Moreover, it also refers to the position when believers were saved ---- the circumcised or the uncircumcised, the salve or freedman (see v.18-24).
“As the Lord has called each one”, it means that trying one’s best to lead the unbelieving spouse to believe the Lord is the work that God calls everyone to do. Moreover, it also means that each one should remain in the state in which he was called before God (see v.20, 24) ---- this is what believers should do.
“And so I ordain in all the churches”, the teachings of Paul to all the churches are the same.
1Cor. 7:18 “Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. ”
YLT: “being circumcised -- was any one called? let him not become uncircumcised; in uncircumcision was any one called? let him not be circumcised;”
Meaning of Words: “become uncircumcised”: efface or hide the mark of circumcision;
The Background: there were two extreme and opposite opinions among believers in the church. Those who especially advocated the law in Judaism thought one could be saved by circumcision besides faith (see Acts 15:1). Some Gentile believers held that the circumcised believers could be saved by becoming uncircumcised.
Literal Meaning: “was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised”. ---- “Become uncircumcised”, since the mark of circumcision is not seen by others, it possibly means that one hides his status of circumcision.
“Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised”. ---- The Gentile believers do not need to receive circumcision.
1Cor. 7:19 “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.”
YLT: “the circumcision is nothing, and the uncircumcision is nothing -- but a keeping of the commands of God.”
Literal Meaning: “circumcision is nothing”, the fleshly circumcision only removes a flat of skin of one’s body, but has not really cut off the lusts or corruption in men (see Col. 2:11). Therefore, circumcision is nothing.
“And uncircumcision is nothing”, uncircumcision can not show that one is better than the circumcised, so it is also nothing.
“But keeping the commandments of God
is what matters”, it is not encouraging believers to keep the regulation in the
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) We are not Christians according to external letters, but according to the internal spiritual reality (see Rom. 2:28-29). Therefore, what is most important is to keep the words of God.
2) Believers in the New Testament should keep the commandments on which the whole law and the prophets hang (see Matt. 19:17-19; 22:37-40), as well as the new commandment given by the Lord (John 13:34-35).
1Cor. 7:20 “Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.”
YLT: “Each in the calling in which he was called -- in this let him remain;”
Literal Meaning: “in the same calling in which he was called”, “calling” the apparent identity and status in the world.
“Let each one remain … ”, “let … remain”, abide in the original calling. If it is allowed, one should seek a better calling (see v.21), but should not strive for it through fierce ways.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Christianity does not focus on social reformation, but on the change of life. Through the change of life, the external social condition will surely be transformed. Therefore, we believers should regard the preachment of the gospel as our duty, not social welfare.
2) The normal Christians are most law-abiding in the nation. To any unreasonable condition, we can pray and commit it unto God, but not make war or start revolution.
1Cor. 7:21 “Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. ”
YLT: “a servant -- wast thou called? be not anxious; but if also thou art able to become free -- use rather;”
you called while a slave?” ---- At that time, many Christians were saved when
they were bondmen (see the commentary in
“Do not be concerned about it”, do not be so care about it, or not be disturbed by it ---- because the status of a salve does not d spiritual pursuit. The bondage in the flesh does not disturb the true liberty in spirit.
“But if you can be made free, rather use it.” ---- The meanings of this verse in English and the original are the same, but they are different from that in the Chinese Union Version. The former two versions mean that one would rather use the present position as a slave. Though a slave serves his master in bondage, he can also serve Christ in this status (see Col. 3:22-23).
Nevertheless, many Bible exegetes agree with the translation of the Chinese Union Version. The position of liberty is more convenient than the position of bondman in the matter of serving the Lord. Therefore, it is better to seek liberty.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) If we believers receive sufficient grace from the Lord (2Cor. 12:9), we will not be troubled by anything.
2) The external liberty may deprive men of their internal true freedom. When a man remains in a circumcision that is not free, it is easy for him to realize the preciousness of true freedom. Therefore, if one spares no effect to seek external liberty, it is better for him to be faithful to serve the Lord Jesus in the present circumstance in the same spirit and with the same effort.
1Cor. 7:22 “For 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. ”
YLT: “for he who in the Lord -- having been called a servant -- is the Lord's freedman: in like manner also he the freeman, having been called, is servant of Christ:”
Literal Meaning: “for he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord's freedman”, “the Lord's freedman”, the slave is delivered from the power of sins and Satan and the law by Christ and thus becomes free (see Gal. 5:1, 13).
“Likewise he who is called while free is Christ's slave”, if a free man is saved, though he is still not ruled by men, he has become the Lord’s slave.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The Lord’s calling does not change the external status of believers, but changes their internal reality. He who was a slave has become free after he is called by the Lord. He who was free has become the salve of the Lord after he is called by the Lord.
2) The liberty in the world is not real liberty, for man’s heart is ruled by many things. Only the Son of God can make us free (John 8:36).
3) What we Christians should focus on is the internal relationship with Christ and the spiritual condition before Christ, not the external status in the world. For example, one who has noble status on the earth may have light measure before the Lord; one who is physically aged may still be very young before the Lord.
1Cor. 7:23 “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.”
YLT: “with a price ye were bought, become not servants of men;”
Literal Meaning: “you were bought at a price”, “price” refers to the price of the precious blood of the Lord. “Buy”, in the slave market. The Lord bought us for the purpose of making us unto Him.
“Do not become slaves of men”, we believers are the Lord’s salves after we are saved, so we shall not be slaves of men. However, this word can not be literally interpreted. Paul does not encourage believers who were salves in the past not to honor his own masters or even make revolutions. It is appropriate to interpret the meaning of this word from spiritual angle ---- one will take serving the Lord as his career and serve men like serving the Lord. Thus, we will not be slaves of men.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) We believers are salves of Christ, so we should not be slaves of men with eye-services, as men-pleasers, but in simplicity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever we do, do as to the Lord, and not to men (see Col. 3:22-23).
2) We should neither be slaves of man, nor slaves of ourselves. Let no one seek his own, but that of the other (see 1Cor. 10:24).
1Cor. 7:24 “Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.”
YLT: “each, in that in which he was called, brethren, in this let him remain with God.”
Literal Meaning: “brethren … that state in which he was called”, this verse is the conclusion of the above fourteen verses (v.10-23). Paul explains that the marriage condition when we are just saved has nothing to do with our faith through the examples of the religious circumcision and the slaves in society, so we need not change the present situation.
“Let each one remain with God in that state”, according to the view of the above verses, if one had married when he was called, he would not have to change the situation that he had married an unbeliever.
1Cor. 7:25 “Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy.”
YLT: “And concerning the virgins, a command of the Lord I have not; and I give judgment as having obtained kindness from the Lord to be faithful:”
Literal Meaning: “Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord”, “virgins” refer to those who have not married.
“Yet …as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy”, “in His mercy”, he can know the will of the Lord because of the Lord’s mercy. “Has made trustworthy”, it means that one can maintain the profit of the Lord faithfully.
“I give judgment”, Paul’s “judgment” is actually the Lord’s will, for the Lord’s mercy has made him trustworthy.
Enlightenment in the Word: though the one “whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy” has not the written “commandment” of the Lord, his judgment is the Lord’s judgment. The Spirit of God will prove his words (see v.40) and the words will be recorded as the Scriptures. This is the surpassing condition of a minister of the words of God. It also indicates that God so trusts in those who are faithful to God.
1Cor. 7:26 “I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress--that it is good for a man to remain as he is:”
YLT: “I suppose, therefore, this to be good because of the present necessity, that good for a man that the matter be thus: --”
Meaning of Words: “distress”: necessity, pressure, constraint;
Literal Meaning: “because of the present distress—”, it means that it is difficult to live in the world in which there are many troubles. It also suggests that there is more distress
“That it is good for a man to remain as he is”, “remain as he is”: abide in the calling in the past and keep the present condition.
1Cor. 7:27 “Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. ”
YLT: “Hast thou been bound to a wife? seek not to be loosed; hast thou been loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.”
Literal Meaning: “are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed”. ---- Those who have married should not desire to recover the single situation.
“Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife.” ---- The single one needs not desire to marry.
1Cor. 7:28 “But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you. ”
YLT: “But and if thou mayest marry, thou didst not sin; and if the virgin may marry, she did not sin; and such shall have tribulation in the flesh: and I spare you.”
Literal Meaning: “but even if you do marry, you have not sinned”, marriage does not affect one’s spiritual status before God, for it is not sin.
“And if a virgin marries, she has not sinned”, “virgin” refers to the young girl who has not married.
“Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.” ---- “Such” refers to those who have married. “Will have trouble in the flesh”, those who have married have heavier burden and harder life than those who have not. If those who have married are persecuted, it is comparatively difficult for them to escape.
1Cor. 7:29 “But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, ”
YLT: “And this I say, brethren, the time henceforth is having been shortened -- that both those having wives may be as not having;”
Literal Meaning: “but this I say, brethren, the time is short”, “the time is short”, it means that the day of the Lord’s second coming is near.
“So that from now on”, it refers to the rest days.
“Even those who have wives should be as though they had none”, it is because the situation that one is separated from his wife and children may appear at any moment, and is also because one loves the Lord more than his wife.
1Cor. 7:30 “those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, ”
YLT: “and those weeping, as not weeping; and those rejoicing, as not rejoicing; and those buying, as not possessing;”
Literal Meaning: “those who weep as though they did not weep”, because the distress of this age will pass and we shall be comforted when we see the Lord.
“Those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice”, the joy in this age is transient and vain.
“Those who buy as though they did not possess”, because all that in the world shall be corrupt, and it is also because that we are stewards of God ---- all that we have possessed are entrusted by God, not of us.
Enlightenment in the Word: sorrow and joy may often be interwoven in our life. Sadness and gladness succeed one another. Christians should surpass the environment and be seated with Christ in the heaven so that we shall not be disappointed because of vicissitude in our life. Moreover, we can even bear good witness to those around us.
1Cor. 7:31 “and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away. ”
YLT: “and those using this world, as not using up; for passing away is the fashion of this world.”
Literal Meaning: “and those who use this world as not misusing it”. The elements, burning with heat, shall be dissolved (see 2Pet. 3:10) and cannot be brought to the eternal world.
“For the form of this world is passing away”, “form” refers to the pattern and fashion. The form of the world is transient and shall pass away soon.
1Cor. 7:32 “But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord--how he may please the Lord. ”
YLT: “And I wish you to be without anxiety; the unmarried is anxious for the things of the Lord, how he shall please the Lord;”
Literal Meaning: “but I want you to be without care”. ---- “Care” refers to things that distract man’s heart. “Be without care”: have few things that distract our heart.
“He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—”, it means that the single one can have more cares for things of the Lord.
“How he may please the Lord”, what we mind shall please the Lord.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Paul asks believers to remain as they are so that they can care more for the things of the Lord. However, today, many bachelors prefer not to marry for fear that the family will decrease their pleasure. Are we really living in the world for the Lord, or for ourselves?
2) The crowd pressing on me daily, the burden of all the assemblies (2Cor. 11:28). He himself had had the heart and attitude of caring for things of the Lord, so he advised believers to remain as they were. He was really a good worker who matched his words with deeds.
1Cor. 7:33 “But he who is married cares about the things of the world--how he may please his wife.”
YLT: “and the married is anxious for the things of the world, how he shall please the wife.”
1Cor. 7:34 “There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world--how she may please her husband. ”
YLT: “The wife and the virgin have been distinguished: the unmarried is anxious for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit, and the married is anxious for the things of the world, how she shall please the husband.”
Literal Meaning: “be holy both in body and in spirit”, “holy”: be hallowed and be separated for the Lord. Since the bodies and hearts of those who have not married can be separated for the Lord, their bodies and spirits are thus hallowed.
1Cor. 7:35 “And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction. ”
YLT: “And this for your own profit I say: not that I may cast a noose upon you, but for the seemliness and devotedness to the Lord, undistractedly,”
Meaning of Words: “distraction”: cares;
Literal Meaning: “not that I may put a leash on you”, it means that I am not entangling you or forcing you to hear my words.
“But for what is proper”, “what is proper” refers to honorable and noble things.
Enlightenment in the Word: Paul himself had not married. And he showed the advantages of not marrying for the profit of others (v.26-34). Though he clearly knew what was right, he still perfectly honored the Lord’s guidance on everyone and had not violated the Lord’s sovereignty on everyone.
1Cor. 7:36 “But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry. ”
YLT: “and if any one doth think to be unseemly to his virgin, if she may be beyond the bloom of age, and it ought so to be, what he willeth let him do; he doth not sin -- let him marry.”
Literal Meaning: “but if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin”, there are three explanations for the word “virgin” from verse 36 to 38:
1) It refers to the virgin under the power of her parents. At that time, parents had the right to decide the children’s marriage. It means so as it is translated as “daughter” in Chinese Union Version. This explanation is fit for parents in old age.
2) It refers to a special monasticism prevailing in Corinth at that time ---- male and female practiced together and dwelt in a house together and slept together in a bed, but they had not any sexual relationship and kept virginity. Here, “virgin” refers to such partners. Such explanation is of no avail, and we can regard it as only a tale.
3) It refers to the virginity of anyone who has not married. This explanation is the most suitable one for the present believers, so it is better to be translated as “virginity”.
“If she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be”, “she is past the flower of youth”, she is past the age of keeping virginity.
“Let him do what he wishes. He does not sin”, he can marry as he wishes, and it is not sin.
“Let them marry”, “them” relates to oneself and the one he loves. Since the sentence inserted here was not very coherent, some Bible exegetes thought it referred to the male and female partners who practiced together.
1Cor. 7:37 “Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well. ”
YLT: “And he who hath stood stedfast in the heart -- not having necessity -- and hath authority over his own will, and this he hath determined in his heart -- to keep his own virgin -- doth well;”
Literal Meaning: “nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart”, “he who stands steadfast in his heart”, it means that one has no doubt about the will of God.
“Having no necessity”, there is no difficulty in environment.
“But has power over his own will”, whether one will marry or not is decided by himself, and his family has not any objection to his decision.
“And has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well”, if one is unwilling to marry and has decided to keep virginity, he has done well.
Note that this verse can also be interpreted as that a father decides the marriage of his daughter.
1Cor. 7:38 “So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better. ”
YLT: “so that both he who is giving in marriage doth well, and he who is not giving in marriage doth better.”
Literal Meaning: “so then”, here it is the conclusion of verse 37 and 38.
“He who gives her in marriage does well”, it means that he who does not withdraw his virginity does well.
“But he who does not give her in marriage does better”, it means that he who keeps his virginity and does not marry does better.
1Cor. 7:39 “A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. ”
YLT: “A wife hath been bound by law as long time as her husband may live, and if her husband may sleep, she is free to be married to whom she will -- only in the Lord;”
Literal Meaning: “a wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives”, when the husband lives, the wife is bound by the covenant of the marriage and cannot devoice and marry again.
“But if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, once the husband had died, the wife has the right to decide by herself to marry anyone again.
“Only in the Lord”, the wife must marry a believer.
Enlightenment in the Word: Christians should marry “those who are in the Lord”, namely, those who have been saved, for believers should not diversely yoked with unbelievers (2Cor. 6:14). We should not ignore this principle.
1Cor. 7:40 “But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment--and I think I also have the Spirit of God.”
YLT: “and she is happier if she may so remain -- according to my judgment; and I think I also have the Spirit of God.”
Literal Meaning: “but she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment—”, though Paul says the wife can marry again, according to his judgment, he still holds that it is more blessed to remain as she is.
“And I think I also have the Spirit of God”, Paul believes that this judgment of him is inspired by the Holy Spirit, so he can be sure that God also agrees with him.
III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons
The Ways of Avoiding Sexual Immorality
A. Positively ---- It is good for a man not to touch a woman (v.1);
B. Passively ---- let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband (v.2).
The Principles for the Husband and the Wife
A. Let one render to the other one the affection due her (him) (v.3).
not deprive one another (v.4
C. Decide certain things after mutual fellowship (v.5b);
The Conditions for Keeping Virginity
A. One shall have the gift of God (v.7).
B. One stands steadfast in his heart (v.37).
C. One has no necessity (v.37).
D. One has power over his own will (v.37).
The Reasons for Keeping Virginity (Remaining Singlehood)
A. It is better to keep virginity for the sake of the present distress (v.25-28).
B. It is better to keep virginity for the sake of the vanity of things in the world (v.29-31).
C. It is better to keep virginity for the sake of serving the Lord without distraction (v.32-35).
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Mary Zhou