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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Paul's FIRST letter to the Corinthians

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FRAMEWORKS: 1 Corinthians 7

In this ‘Framework' we use our usual text PLUS comment style to enable you, as simply as possible, to catch the sense of his writing.


FRAMEWORKS: 1 Corinthians 7: Married Life & Singleness


v.1-6 Concerning Married Life

v.7-9 Concerning Singles etc.

v.10-16 Living with Unsaved Partners

v.17-24 Resting in your Present Circumstances

v.25-40 Mainly Concerning the Unmarried



[Chapter Synopsis: From confronting the subject of sexual immorality in the previous chapter, Paul now speaks about how the right approach to the marriage can counter those temptations. He deals first with marriages and then advice for singles, resting in the situation you find yourself in, and concludes with more wise counsel for singles.]



v.1-6 Concerning Married Life


v.1 (in respect of the things you wrote and asked about, in the present world [possibly having in mind the level of persecutions and opposition that so often prevailed] sex should be avoided except as follows) Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.”

v.2 (to avoid temptation to immorality sex should be a natural part of married life) But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.

v.3 (caring for one another in this respect is a right starting place) The husband should fulfil his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.

v.4 (each partner should yield to the needs of the other [and it is a two-way street!]) The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.

v.5 (only hold back for special times of prayer otherwise Satan may find you a prey to his temptations in this area of life) Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

v.6 (this isn't a command but just wise counsel) I say this as a concession, not as a command.


[Passage Synopsis: The talk about the potential of sexual immorality leads on to wise counsel about how the loving, caring marriage helps counter such temptation.]



v.7-11 Concerning Singles


v.7 (I'm on the ministry trail on my own but I can't expect that of you) I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

v.8 (if you are single [in the present climate] it's wise to stay like that) Now to the unmarried [Or widowers] and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.

v.9 (but if that puts a physical strain on you it's better to marry) But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.


[Passage Synopsis: Remaining single is a wise option under some circumstances but where emotions run strong, get married.]



v.10-16 Living with Unsaved Partners


v.10 (but to the married, as Jesus commanded, you shouldn't separate from one another [except as a last resort when, for example, violence becomes part of the relationship]) To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband.

v.11 (if you do separate, seek to avoid divorce and seek reconciliation where you can) But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

v.12,13 (to others, in the absence of divine instruction, if you are now a believer married to a nonbeliever, if they are will, stay with them) To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.

v.14 (in marriage the believer has a sanctifying effect on the non-believer and their children [that opens the way for the Lord to move]) For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

v.15 (but if the unbelieving partner leaves, so be it) But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.

v.16 (who knows what the Lord might be able to do through you, reaching your partner through you) How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?


[ Passage Synopsis: Remaining single can be wise under some circumstances.]



v.17-24 Resting in your Present Circumstances


v.17 (rest in the situation God has given you, is the key to happiness) Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.

v.18 (don't change your status if you are a Jew) Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised.

v.19 (keeping the Lord's commands is the starting and finishing point) Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts.

v.20 (stay in what you had when called) Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

v.21 (for example slaves, rest in it unless you get the opportunity for freedom) Were you a slave when you were called? Don't let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so.

v.22 (bound to Christ is the important issue) For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord's freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ's slave.

v.23 (as you belong to Christ, see yourself as that only) You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings.

v.24 (rest in where you are) Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.


[Passage Synopsis: The main point Paul is seeking to make is to be at peace in whatever your circumstances. Thus he has made some general points here about it yet earlier has given counsel about marrying or separating as is appropriate. They key is rest in your situation and let God change it if He sees there is something better for you.]



v.25-40 Mainly Concerning the Unmarried


v.25 (young singles, I have nothing from God as such) Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy.

v.26 (because of the present world situation [persecutions etc. as noted above] it's a smart move to remain single) Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is.

v.27 (however if you are engaged, go with it, but otherwise rest in your singleness) Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife.

v.28 (marrying is not sin, despite what I've said so far, but in the present conditions marriage will often have difficulties) But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.

v.29-31 (in these days, hold marriage lightly so if, under persecution you are torn apart you will be better able to cope with it) What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

v.32 (I want you to be at peace and for singles it is easier to get on with any opportunity the Lord puts before you) I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord.

v.33,34 (the married person's concerns are divided in that we have both God and our partner to please) But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.

v.35 (I'm not wanting to restrict you, just help you to be available to God) I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

v.36 (if you're engaged and your feelings get to strong, get on and get married quickly) If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong [Or if she is getting beyond the usual age for marriage] and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married.

v.37 (but if you determine to remain single, that's fine) But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing.

v.38 (so settle in your own mind what is best for you) So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.

v.39 (stock with your husband until he dies, then you are free to marry another rif you wish) A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.

v.40 (I suspect she may be less open to stress if she remains a widow) In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.


[Passage Synopsis: The advice Paul gives (and it is advice and not commands) should be seen in the light of the days in which they live – days full of persecution and believers being opposed, which can put marriages under strain. This is an example, therefore of inspired scripture that applies to a specific time period rather than having general application, although there are part of it that can have that general application.]


Continue to Chapter 8