(ii) To The Not Yet Married(7:25-40)

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Read this section once again...

1 Cor 7:25-40

25Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy.

26I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress-- that it is good for a man to remain as he is:

27Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife.

28But 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.

29But 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,

30those 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,

31and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.

32But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord-- how he may please the Lord.

33But he who is married cares about the things of the world-- how he may please his wife.

34There 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.

35And 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.

36But 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.

37Nevertheless 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.

38So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.

39A 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.

40But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment-- and I think I also have the Spirit of God.


(a) Reconstructing the Problem.

In this section Paul is speaking to a specific group of people called 'the Virgins' which are representatives of ALL SINGLE PEOPLE.

Many different translations of this word 'virgin' have been given but the most accurate one seems to be a young woman who is engaged to be married.

Let us now determine what it was that the Corinthians were saying in their letter to the Corinthians in relation to the virgins....

Because of their GNOSTIC view of the body, they were saying that it is better for the virgins not to have sexual relations (abstinence - see the diagram again) and hence not marry. This means that they were basically saying that they thought all single people should remain single.

(a) Paul's answer.

As we have seen the Corinthians are saying that the virgins in the church should not marry. Paul agrees in part but he does not agree with their reasoning ! He also does not teach as a command from God but states that he is suggesting something in his own judgement.

What are the two reasons that anyone should remain single according to this passage ? (see verse 26 and verse32-35) and click on the answers below when you have found out for yourself...

REASON ONE IS (verse 26)....

REASON TWO IS (verse 32-35)...

Think about the above two reasons in your present situation. Would Paul give the same advise to Christians in your city, town or village ?

It must be stressed here that Paul is not against marriage at all (that would go against his writings in Ephesians Chapter 5). This section is not a direct command from the Lord (see verse 25) as was the previous section, but is Paul's own desire based on the world's situation that surrounded the Corinthians.

Certainly many Church situations would not match the Corinthians in terms of persecution and the stress of married life and each Christian community needs to weigh up Paul's advice here with wisdom concerning their own situation.

Because we are living in the END TIMES it is essential that Christians are mobilized for service. Single people are often easier to motivate into mission and church ministry. But Paul stresses that both MARRIAGE and SINGLE HOOD are a GIFT.

Verse 27 states Paul's advise to remain in that 'calling' (compare with verse 20) in which they find themselves - if they are married, remain married and if they are single not to fret and worry and desperately seek a spouse. Verse 28 shows that some singles will get married (and this may well be God's will) and this is not to be looked down on and considered less spiritual. It is still good!! But it may cause more problems!! ('such will have trouble in the flesh' - what could this mean ?).

Read verses 29-31. What is the main point Paul is making here ? Read Matthew Henry's commentary on these verses.

Paul is basically saying that in whatever relationship or situation a Christian is in they should give themselves wholeheartedly to the work of the Lord - which includes loving our spouse if we are married and training our children in righteousness if we have kids. Many Christian workers interpret this as meaning they can ignore their responsibilities towards their spouse and kids because they have more 'spiritual' matters to take care of in God's kingdom.

Verse 36 is talking about a couple engaged to be married and the man is unable to control his sexual desire and the woman is getting older . Paul's advice is to marry and this will not be a sin. This shows that Paul is not against marriage and would rather marriage took place when the people involved are 'burning with passion' so that they do not fall into fornication.

Verses 37-38 commends the man who doesn't rush into marriage but exercises self-control. The term 'determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin' is a reference to the man engaged to be married - it is better that he waits patiently and doesn't get married but keeps up the engagement. Probably, because of the distressing times surrounding the Corinthians, this was a specific suggestion for the engaged men on the church at that time. Think how this could apply to today's church.

Verses 39-40 concludes with Paul's advise to the widowed. Again, she is free to remarry if her husband dies but it is better for her to remain single for the same reasons as above.

Now answer the following multiple choice questions to see if you have grasped the principles in this section...(click on the letter you think is correct)

(1) Suppose a Christian couple come to you saying they wanted a divorce. On the basis of 1 Cor 7 you should...

(a) Explain more fully what it means to walk in the way of the Cross and love in their marriage.

(b) Tell them that the Scripture forbids it and that they will be harshly judged if they do.

(c) Recognize that we live in a different cultural setting from Paul and help them through the divorce as best as you can.

(2) The basic problem in 7:1-16 was that some...

(a) Corinthians taught that Christians shouldn't marry.

(b) Corinthians thought that Christians married to pagans should be divorced.

(c) Corinthians were opposed to sexual relations even within marriage.

(d) Corinthians thought that Church Leaders should not marry.

(3) Which of the following describes the problem Paul is responding to in 7:25-40 ?

(a) In light of the soon return of Christ, they are asking Paul if they should actively pursue marriage.

(b) In light of their attitude to sexual relations some Corinthians have argued that it is better for engaged couples not to consummate their marriage.

If you get any of the above wrong I suggest you go one more time over the material in this lesson to really grasp the principles taught here.

If you are satisfied you know this section adequately then you may go to the next lesson - Food Sacrificed To Idols : The Principles of Christian Freedom.

Copyright 2000 Gibson Productions