Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 7:25 - 7:40

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Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 7:25 - 7:40

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C.—Apostolic counsel in reference to remaining single; a. for the unmarried generally, b. for maidens and their fathers, c. for widows


25Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. 26I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man [person, ἀíèñùðῳ ,] so to be. 27Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. 28But and if thou marry, [But if also thou mayest have married] thou best not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Neverthe less such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you. 29But this I say, brethren, the time [henceforth] is short [narrowed down]: it remaineth, [omit, it remaineth, insert, in order] that both they that have wives be as though they had none; 30And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; 31and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as not abusing [overusing] it: for the fashion of this world passeth away. 32But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, and how he may please the Lord: 33But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, and how he may please4 his wife. 34There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 35And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. 36But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. 37Nevertheless he that standeth steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep [in order to keep] his virgin, doeth well. 38So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth10 better. 39The wife is bound by the law [omit, the law] as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, [sleep, êïéìçèῇ ] she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. 40But she is happier [more blessed] if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also [om. also] hat I [also] have the Spirit of God.


1Co_7:25-28. But now concerning virgins.—In what follows Paul speaks indeed of unmarried men also, but it by no means follows from this that the word ðáñèÝíïò , virgin, should be extended to both sexes. This would not suit with New Testament usage, for in Rev_14:4, it stands only as a predicate, and describes a state; [Hodge, on the contrary.].—Virgins, properly so-called, are the ones to whom his counsel here applies. Yet a reference to other unmarried persons is also involved. Schott (in his studies upon the Epistles to the Corinthians, Luth. Zeit. 1861–4) supposes him to denote such single persons of both sexes as had chosen the celibate state to serve the Lord in, whether as Deacons or Deaconesses, or in the free exercise of their gifts; [similarly Bengel, Olsh. But Meyer, et al., limit the designation to the female sex.] The äÝ indicates an advance in the discussion, which now returns from its digression to its proper theme, and contemplates the same in a new aspect.—I have no commandment of the Lord; but I give my judgment. ἘðéôáãÞ , commandment, just as in 1Co_7:10. “We see here how important it was, in the view of the Apostle, to distinguish the positive commands of the Lord, from all others. This care of his presupposes with great probability the existence at that time of not merely an oral, but also a written tradition of the discourses of our Lord. Hero we have a sure fixed point against the theory of the mythical origin of the Gospels.” Neander. [“This passage has furnished the two words ãíþìç and åðéôáãç , which the Vulgate translates “consilium” and “præceptum,” advice and command—the origin of the famous distinction of later times, between ‘counsels of perfection’ and ‘precepts.’ In this passage the distinction lies only in the fact that one was a command of Christ, and the other his own opinion, although pronounced with Apostolical authority.” Stanley.] Respecting ãíþìç consult on 1Co_1:10. Here it means, best judgment, advice, counsel, (as in 1Co_7:6, óõ÷ãíþìç ). But this advice he presents as something important and worthy of consideration, by adding—as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.—In this he, on the one hand, brings to view his Apostolic authority, showing that he is worthy of reliance, and that what he advised was something which ought to be accepted as agreeable to the mind of the Lord, even though it may not have been credibly handed down in any express precept of His, according to the saying of Christ, “Whosoever heareth you heareth me.” But, on the other hand, he speaks as in 2Co_4:1, in all humility giving honor to the grace of Christ, who had lifted him out of the depths of misery into this Apostolic office, and had given him the Spirit of truth, and had so revealed to him his own mind, that the advice he gave should merit perfect confidence (comp. 1Co_7:40).— Ðéóôüò , as in 1Ti_1:12; 1Ti_1:15, Rev_1:5, not exactly in the sense of believing. (Olst., Meyer, de Wette), nor yet precisely as true (Billr. and Rückert), but, faithful [as a steward, and dispenser of the hidden things of God. Winer, sec. 1Co_4:2; and so Stanley. Bloom field says: “as one worthy of credit,” referring to 1Th_2:4. “Faith makes a true casuist.” Bengel].—In 1Co_7:26 ff., he gives his advice, first, in reference to the unmarried in general, and comes to speak of virgins in particular, not until 1Co_7:36. The judgment is then introduced with a modest íïìßæù [“which seldom, if ever, denotes in Scripture an absolute authority or decree, but a matter of opinion or private judgment, Mat_5:17; Mat_10:34; Mat_20:10; Luk_2:44; 1Ti_6:5, etc.” Bloomfield].—I suppose, therefore, this to be good on account of the present distress, that it is good for a person so to be.i.e., unmarried. [Perhaps better, ïὕôùò , so i.e., as he is, married or single. This better suits the context; and the other is too far-fetched]. From the infinitive construction, he passes over into that, with ὁßõ , to which he might have been prompted by the subject of the clause, ôὸ ïὕôùò åῖíáé , so that we need not assume, with Meyer and others, an anacoluthon here. [Yet it is very like one, and is so regarded by Alford and Stanley]. De Wette renders ὅôé , because, and ôïῦôï , as referring to the being unmarried; and makes the sense: ‘because it is, in general, good for men to be unmarried;’ but here, he inserts the words: ‘in general,’ and his explanation by no means tallies with the clause: ‘on account of the present distress:’— ÊÜëëïí here designates that which is fitting, or advantageous, as may be seen in the ground alleged. [ Áíèῤþðῳ —general term, including females, and might be rendered person]. By “the present distress,” he means either some then urgent necessity,—according to some, the famine under Claudius, according to others, marital cares and sufferings (?), and, according to others, the oppressions and persecutions of Christians, according to Mœhler, the eradication of the sexual impulse in marriage; or it were better to understand by it some impending catastrophe just on the point of occurring,—it may be the fearful crisis and bitter conflicts just preceding the coming, of Christ (dolores Messiæ) which was anticipated as near. [So Alford and Stanley (comp. Mat_24:8; Mat_24:19; Mat_24:21). At all events, the reference must be to something extraordinary. This is implied in the epithet ‘present.’ And it is nothing more than “a Popish perversion,” as Bloomfield says, “to change this from a special to a general admonition”]. This ground avails naturally also for the explanatory clause,—Hast thou been bound to a wife? do not seek a separation. Hast thou been loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.—In the latter clause, his advice to single persons already introduced by ἀíèñþðù , in a general way, is more plainly brought out. This appears in the form of a contrast, as repeating the injunction of 1Co_7:11, evidently for the sake of avoiding a misconstruction by opposers, of what had been previously said. [So Meyer and de Wette; but Alford more plausibly questions this, and takes the conjunction to be simply explanatory of his ‘so to be’]. Here also, as in 1Co_7:18; 1Co_7:21, various grammatical constructions are possible. It is best to regard the introductory clauses as either hypothetical or declarative: “If thou art bound, then,” etc.; or: “Thou art bound, seek not,” etc., the sense is the same. The ãõíáéêß stands as in Rom_7:2, ἀíäñß : Dative of communion.— ÄÝëõóáß , ‘hast thou been loosed?’ implies primarily the dissolution of a connection before existing, whether by death, or otherwise. [If this be insisted on, the subsequent injunction of the Apostle must then be interpreted of a second marriage]. But in this connection the simple fact of being free or unmarried, in general is meant; and the expression is introduced simply for the sake of harmonizing with äÝäåóáé , hast thou been bound? [so Alford; and Bengel, who says “that the latent participle here has the force of a noun.” ‘It is also remarked by Grotius and others, that passives in Heb. and Gr. are often used as neuters’]. That the injunction: “do not seek a wife,” is to be taken merely as advice, is plain from what follows.—but even if thou shouldest have married, thou hast not sinned.—Not so, however, would it be in the other case. There would be sin in a married person seeking to be loosed. Hence it was only the last clause that was advice. [‘From these words it has been rightly inferred that there were among the Corinthians persons, like those spoken of (1Ti_4:3) forbidding marriage, as if it were sinful.’ Bloomfield]. ÃáìÞóῃò lit.: ‘If thou shouldest have married.’ In like manner ãÞìῃ . The word ãáìåßí can be predicated also of the woman, if no accusative is appended. Otherwise the phrase is ãáìåῖóèáß ôéíé , to be married to some one.—After quieting all doubts of conscience in the matter, he points to another consideration which was closely connected with the present distress.—Tribulation in the flesh, however, will such people have.—If with Calvin and others we here conceive an allusion to domestic troubles, these must be understood as intensified by the ‘distress,’ since the relations entered into by the married people (their cares for husband, wife and children, and bodily needs) involve peculiar perplexity in times of persecution and of other troubles (comp. Luk_23:28; Mat_24:19). The words: ‘in the flesh,’ are to be connected either with ‘tribulation,’ or with ‘shall have;’ the sense is the same. ÓÜñî , flesh, denotes the lower sensuous life, with all its interests; here it refers to the domestic life, with its manifold solicitudes about food, and clothing, and the preservation of things appertaining to it from all injury, etc. Ïἱ ôïéïῦôïé , such people, i.e., such as marry—But I spare you.—Paul here expresses his paternal benevolence; q. d., ‘in giving you such advice, I would fain obviate all your troubles.’ ÖÝéäïìáé stands here for öåéäïßìçí ἅí , I desire to spare you. Paul is not here ascribing to the unmarried any greater moral excellence than to the married, as Romanists imagine; but is only contrasting the comparative outward ease of the one, with the burdens which will press on the other by reason of approaching troubles. [Another interpretation given by Augustine and the Latin Fathers, and preferred by Estius, Newemacher, and Bloomfield, is: ‘I spare you the pain of dilating on those evils’—parallel to 2Co_12:6]. This seems to be confirmed by the following, ôïῦôï äὲ öçìé : ‘but this I do say’].

1Co_7:29-31. He now proceeds to confirm the advice above given, and to render his readers more inclined to follow it.—But this I say, brethren. Ôïῦôï , this, might refer to what precedes, provided only the ὅôé , because, were genuine. But now it can serve only to introduce what follows, and that, too, in such a way as to exhibit the

importance of this opening—the time henceforth is shortened, in order that.—Here the punctuation and reading are contested. The reading best accredited is ἐóôὶí ôὸ ëïéðüí . In this case, as in the reading ôï ëïéðüí ἐóôὶí , ôὸ ëïéðüí may be connected with what precedes, as well as with what follows. On the contrary, were ἐóôßí repeated, it could only be joined with the latter; hence, we might suppose that this reading originated in the idea that ôὸ ëïéðüí must be connected with what follows. Then it would mean: ‘it remains that,’ etc. [as in the E. version]. This would be opposed neither by the article, nor by the ἵíá . For even in Plato the article is found in such a mode of speaking: ôὸ óὲ ëïéðὸí ἥäç ἡìῖí ἐóôé óêἑøáïèáé (Passow 2:1, 81). But the ἵíá shows that he is treating here about the solution of a moral problem: ‘what remains is, that they may be,’ etc. But if we connect it with the foregoing, then it must be taken as a more exact qualification of the clause, q. d., ‘henceforth, for the future.’ The decision in regard to this case depends upon which connection yields better sense. [Most commentators decide for the latter view. Among these Meyer, Alford, Bloomfield, Hodge. It certainly yields the best sense.] But what are we to understand by the declaration: ὁ êáéñὸò óõíåóôáëìÝíïò ἐóôßí . Some [Rosen., Rückert, Olshausen] explain it: ‘the time is full of straits—grievous.’ But in those passages from which this signification is attempted to be proved (Macc. 1Co_3:6; 1Co_10:3), the word is used only of persons, and then means humbled, cast down, which terms cannot be predicated of time. There remains, therefore, only the other interpretation, contracted, limited, shortened. [“ ÓõóôÝëëåóèáé and óõóôüëç are the regular grammatical words used for the shortening of a syllable in prosody”]. In any case, however, ὁ êáéñὸò is not to be taken for the earthly life-time of individuals, [as Calvin and Estius]. The context rather points to the period of time from thence onward, until the second advent. But does it here denote the simple period of time in itself, or does it mean favorable time (opportunity)? i.e., the time in which one can yet ensure his salvation, or prepare himself for that great change concurrent with Christ’s second coming, which is to wind up the entire present condition of the world—the êáéñὸò äåêôüò : “the time accepted,” (2Co_6:2; comp. also Gal_6:10). In this case the predicate would suit still better, and also the adjunct ôὸ ëïéðüí : and we should render: ‘the time (the opportune period) is compressed, or shortened henceforth.’ The final clause—in order that those having wives, etc.—may be either referred to: ‘this I say,’ as if by declaring the time short, he arrived at the thing here stated; or, which is better, it may be taken as assigning the reason why the time is shortened, so that it indicated the Divine purpose in this curtailment. [So Hodge, Alford]. And this is confirmed by the subsequent declaration brought in as proof: ‘for the fashion of this world passeth away,’ 1Co_7:31. In this way a good meaning is obtained. But the other mode of punctuating yields also good sense: ‘it remains,’ i.e., no other choice is left, but that those having wives, etc. This, however, is somewhat harsh, and the other merits the preference. But, perhaps, a still better one is afforded by the connection of ôὸ ëïéðüí with what follows, maintained by Meyer (3 ed.) in the sense of: henceforth, implying that “henceforth the relations should be regarded differently, from what they had been hitherto.” Ἵíá is postscribed as in Gal_2:10, and elsewhere.—may be as those not having them, and those weeping as though they wept not, and those rejoicing as though they rejoiced not, and those buying as those that possessed not, and those using the world as not using it.—These clauses denote an internal loosing of the spirit from all bonds (even the closest), and from all circumstances, and from the possession and use of all earthly goods; in short, they enforce the maintenance of a personal independence of all external worldly relations (Meyer), the refusal to be fettered by these things in our communion with God and Christ, so that the sacrifice of all of them could be readily made when called for (comp. Luk_14:20). Accordingly, we are taught that no conjugal love, no sorrows over disasters and losses, no exultation over good fortune, should be allowed to possess the spirit, so as to impair that divine communion. And as Christians must ever be inwardly free from what is transient, in order to maintain that eternal blessing, so it becomes them to hold lightly by the earthly inheritance. They must ever remember that it is no abiding possession, and are not to cleave to it fondly; and finally, in reference to the use of the world, they should use “as using not.” The word ‘buying’ comported well with the circumstances of the Corinthians. Corinth being a great emporium, the people were given to traffic, especially to buying. In regard to êáôá÷ñþìåíïé , expositors are divided; some take it as equivalent to ÷ñþìåíïé , êáôÜ being only intensive; others translate it, abuse; but the latter meaning does not sustain the analogy with the foregoing clauses. [Alford renders it: “ ‘using it in full,’ implying an extreme and greedy use, which turns a legitimate use into a fault”]. The êáôÜ was, perhaps, suggested by that in êáôÝ÷ïíôåò just preceding. ×ñῆóäáé , to use, takes its object here in the accusative [the only instance of the kind in the New Testament], (comp. Passow No. 1Co_2:2, p. 2496). The Rec. ôῶ êïóìῷ is a change made in accordance with the more common construction. By ‘the world,’ we are to understand the totality of the visible creation, of all objects, goods, relations, belonging to the present age. It comprises in one, all the objects expressed or implied in the previous clauses. Hence, the following sentence, also, extends to these,—for the fashion of this world passeth away.—( ðáñÜãåé ôὸ ó÷ῆìá .)—By this we are not to understand a mere change of scene (an image drawn from the theatre)—a daily shifting of events belonging to the present; nor yet the transientness of earthly things in general; but the mighty revolution attendant upon the advent of Christ—the entire vanishing or destruction of the form of this world, its outward appearance and mode of existence, of which mention is made in 1Jn_2:17; Rev_21:1. This great change presents itself to him as one close at hand, and, therefore, he speaks of it in the present. (Meyer: ‘is on the point of passing away’). “The disposition which Paul here inculcates in view of the expected palingenesis of the world, is one demanded at all times. All earthly things are vanishing and in perpetual flux; we are ever approaching a new order of things. The woes which Paul saw, have often repeated themselves, and will often be repeated, until the final catastrophe breaks in.” Neander. Since this sentence does not assign the reason for an exhortation, but is brought in to substantiate that which has been previously set forth as a Divine purpose, we cannot directly annex to it the following verse, putting a comma after ôïýôïõ . But we are to regard this (1Co_7:32) as a new thought introduced—a still further reason assigned for recommending the single state. It is, however, directly joined to what precedes, in so far as Paul’s will and wishes aim at having them free from the care which belongs to the things of this world, which is so fast hastening to its end.

1Co_7:32-34. But I would that you were without care.—By ἀìÝñéìíïé , he means, freedom from care about the things of this world, as set forth in the 33d verse; for the care which he first speaks of,—he that is unmarried careth for the things of the Lord—can only be something which must command approval. It is perfectly right for a person (with undivided heart) to be solicitous for that which belongs to his Lord. And in what way, he explains further by the expression,—how he may please the Lord.—To the unmarried, i.e., to him who has the gift of continence, and who remains single, in order to devote himself to the interests of God’s kingdom, untrammelled by earthly bonds (comp. Mat_19:12), it belongs to occupy himself in the concerns of his Lord, and that with the simple desire of pleasing Him.—While the Apostle here has in his mind, those who, like himself, were in the true sense ἄãáìïé , unmarried, in what follows, on the other hand, he exhibits to view the ordinary experience of mankind, [and explains the nature of the care from which he would have them relieved].—But he that is married careth for the things of this world, etc.—Here he shows that on entering the married life, they have at once a divided heart, become entangled in the occupations of the earthly life, and exhibit a tendency to consider how one party may please the other, how the one (even in these worldly interests), may do right by the other, etc.—Yet in this Paul does not intend to set forth the evils which are necessarily involved in the very nature of marriage, but only to state what is usually found to be the case in actual experience. He does not mean to disparage the divine ordinance, as though it was necessarily calculated to promote estrangement from God, (Burger.)—In carrying out of this thought in reference to the wife (1Co_7:34) Paul continues:—Divided also is the woman and the virgin. ÌåìÝñéóôáé êáὶ ἡ ÷õíὴ êáὶ ἡ ðáñèÝíïò .—We encounter, first, a great diversity of readings and punctuation. The first consists in the following variations:—1. On good authorities Lachmann reads êáὶ ìåìÝñéóôáé êáὶ ,—and after this, although on fewer authorities, ἡ ãõíὴ ἡ ἅãáìïò . 2. Tischendorf, with Griesbach and Scholz: ìåì . êáὶ ἡ ãõíὴ êáß —supported by authorities, in part equally weighty, and in part more preponderant. 3. The received text drops the êáß after ìåì ., but without sufficient authority.—The punctuation, apart from the various untenable experiments of Griesb. and Scholz, may be twofold. Lachmann and Rückert attach the êáß ìåì . to what precedes, making ὁ ãáìÞóáò the subject of it; and read, ‘he that is married is divided, i.e., distracted with cares.’ Êáὶ ἡ ãῦíὴ then begins a new sentence, translated thus: ‘both the unmarried wife (=widow) and the unmarried virgin cares,’ etc. On the contrary, Tisch. and Meyer begin a new sentence with ìåì . ‘And there is a difference between the wife and the virgin; the unmarried careth,’ etc. [In his edition of the Codex Sinaiticus, Tisch. follows the punctuation of Lach. and Rückert, given above, putting a period after êáὶ ìåì .]. The difference, according to De Wette and Meyer, is to be explained from the fact that ìåì . was not understood (and therefore entirely left out), or was misunderstood (as meaning: ‘distracted with cares,’) and therefore was attached by êáß to the foregoing; consequently, ãõíÞ was necessarily taken to denote, a widow (Esth. vidua), and as the result, ἡ ἅãáìïò , the unmarried, was either put before (Vulgate), or inserted after (comp. Reiche. Comm. Crit. Spec. III. Gött. 1839). But ìåìÝñéóôáé , is divided, indicates the diversity between the woman and the virgin, in respect of care ( ìåñéìíᾷí ). They are divided, separated, in their interests. (Comp. ìåñßæåóèáé , Mat_12:25.) Theoph.: ìåìåñéóìÝíáé åἰóὶ ôáῖò óðïõäáῖò . “The man is divided between the Lord and his wife.” Neander. Luther’s translation: ‘there is a difference,’ is not sufficiently definite. The use of the singular is to be explained from the position of the verb, and because the whole female sex is here embraced as one idea (Meyer.)—The unmarried cares for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy in both body and spirit.—For ‘virgin,’ he now says the ‘unmarried;’ and instead of ‘how she may please the Lord,’ he now puts, that which leads to this, ‘that she may be holy,’ i.e., entirely devoted to the Lord, to serve Him with her whole person, and all her powers. First, he specifies ‘in body,’ because the marriage state primarily obligates the body in an earthly or worldly relation, and involves power of the man over the body of his wife (1Co_7:4), and easily occasions a defilement of the physical life. But the sanctity of the body, if it is of the right sort, is rooted in the sanctity of the spirit (comp. Osiander). The êáὶ before óþìáôé has the predominance of authorities in its favor; a few support Lachmann in reading ôῷ óῴìáôé êáὶ ôῶ ðíåýìáôé . [“The word holy has the sense that it has in 1Co_7:14, and so often elsewhere. It is not in purity and spirituality that the virgin is said to have advantage of the wife; but in freedom from distracting cares. In 1Co_7:14, even the unbelieving husband or wife is said to be sanctified, or made holy. And it is in the same general sense of consecration, that holiness is here predicated of virgins, as distinguished from wives. It would be to impugn a divine ordinance, and to contradict all experience, to say that married women, because married, are less holy than the unmarried. Paul advances no such idea.” Hodge.]—But she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.—[This is not charged upon her as sin, but it is a part of her obligation of marriage, and is therefore expected of her. And if she has ‘married in the Lord,’ then even this very effort to please her husband may be a part of the service she renders unto the Lord. Yet while this is so, the obligation to the husband, it must be confessed, not unfrequently presents a temptation to a divided service, and in her endeavors to gratify his wishes, especially if he is of a worldly, or even partially sanctified spirit, is often betrayed into acts which militate against her piety, and interfere with her higher obligations. This is how it happens that many a Christian woman comes to be found absenting herself from the place of prayer, frequenting the ball-room and theatre, giving parties on the Sabbath, and in other ways compromising her conscience to her own spiritual injury and the discredit of her profession. And it is to the danger of such evils, incurred by marriage, that the Apostle points.]

1Co_7:35. And this I speak for your own profit.—Here he obviates misapprehension, and assures them that his commendation of the single state, did not flow from any selfish motives—out of a desire to rule their conscience, or to obtain honor by enforcing upon them his own celibate condition; but only out of regard to their own advantage, whether it be to spare them trouble (1Co_7:28), or, as the following context would indicate, to render the maintenance of their Christian profession at that particular crisis a little easier. This is the profit which he now develops antithetically:—not that I may cast a snare over you—( âñü÷ïí ἐðé âÜëù ) [a figure borrowed from hunting, and means lit., to fling a noose]. Here he applies it to mean the ensnaring of their conscience, and binding them to his opinion. In like manner we have the expressions “to put a yoke,” “to lay a burden,” in Act_15:10; Mat_23:4. Less plausible is the explanation: ‘to awaken scruples of conscience,’ or, ‘to endanger your purity by withholding you from marriage.’ And just as little may we connect either of these interpretations with the first. The ‘profit’ above spoken of is more fully explained by the phrase—but with a view to seemliness, ἀëëὰ ðñὸò ôï åὔó÷çìïí . Ðñïò here denotes the final end, as in 1Co_10:11, etc.,=‘for the furtherance of what is comely; that is, honestum, the worthier, more independent position—the one free from worldly cares (comp. Rom_13:13; 1Th_4:12).—As a further definition of this, he proceeds,—and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.—By this he means a perpetual engagedness with him, without being diverted hither and thither by another’s influence. This is “the caring for the things of the Lord,” mentioned above, a life entirely devoted to the Lord and His cause—the opposite of being “troubled about many things” (Luk_10:41)—the practice of holiness (1Co_7:34). The whole is= åὐó÷çìïíåῖí êáὶ åὐðÜñåäñïí åἶíáé (Meyer, Ed. 3. The exhibition of the inner life in its entire outward manifestation in a mode corresponding to this devotion to the Lord; the whole moral consecration and self-discipline, so far as it expresses itself in demeanor, in speech, posture, behavior, as the true outward type of the Christian life). [“The image here conveyed is exactly expressed by the story in Luke, of Mary “sitting by the side of Jesus’ feet” ( ðáñáêáèßóáóá , comp. åὐðÜñåäñïí ), and Martha, “who was cumbered ( Ðåñéåóðᾶôï ) with much serving,” and “careful ( ìåñéìíᾷò ) about many things.” Stanley].

1Co_7:36. But if any man think that he behaveth himself unseemly towards his virgin,—He now comes to speak particularly of virgins [and addresses himself especially to fathers, since, according to the custom of Jews and Greeks, and most oriental nations at this day, the disposal of daughters in marriage rested with them]. The äÝ introduces in contrast with the ‘seemliness’ above spoken of, an unseemliness ( ἀó÷çìïíåῖí ). This word means to act unsuitably, unbecomingly (1Co_13:5). It may also mean [see Wetstein], ‘to suffer something unbecoming, to be disgraced.’ [And so most of the Gr. fathers, and Grotius interpret the word here. ‘The disgrace, which, according to the opinions of the East, female celibacy involved, extended from the virgin to the father (comp. Sir_13:9).’ Hence their desire to marry their daughters as speedily as possible (Bloomfield)]. But only the former meaning suits with ἐðὶ , which indicates the direction of an action [so Hodge, Robinson], towards, or in respect to [Jelf’s Gr. Gram., § 635, 3, 6, comp. § 905, 3, 6]. If it had the latter signification, we would rather expect ἀó÷çìïíÞóåéí , that he will suffer disgrace, etc. Both significations, however, lead to the same thing; for he does not here allude to the disgrace of living unmarried, and so becoming an old maid, which would be brought upon the virgin, but to the disgrace of the temptation which would be occasioned by refusing her marriage; [so Alford, Hodge]. ‘His virgin’=his daughter,—if she be of full age. ÐáñèÝíïò ὑðÝñáêìïò means one who has passed the years of her youth (according to Plato, the áêìÞ of a woman was at twenty years of age), an age when, by the refusal of marriage on the part of the father, a surrender to her lover on her part was more to be feared than in earlier years.—and it must needs so be, êáé ïὕôùò ὀöåßëåé ãßíåóèáé . These words cannot be made dependent (Rückert) on the ἐÜí preceding, on account of the indicative; neither can ãÝíåóèáé ever be= ìÝíåéí , q. d., ‘so she should remain single.’ They depend rather on åἱ [understood]; and by ïὕôùòãÝí . he means that which is expressed in the following clause, viz., the marriage of the daughter. The ὀöåἰëåé (=oportet, Passow 1Co_2:2, p. 1029) implies that the temperament of the daughter, [or some other equally cogent circumstance for the phrase, may include those of every kind, whether existing in the father or in the daughter] makes marriage necessary. It introduces a further objective element, in addition to the subjective one, expressed in íïìßæåé .—let him do what he wishes Ὅ èÝëåé denotes not mere caprice, the arbitrary wish of the father, but a purpose grounded upon his best judgment ( íïìßæåé ) [and here it will be seen that the whole authority in the premises rested with the father].—let them marry.—The subject of ãáìåßôùóáí is easily understood, viz., the virgin and her lover. “It can also be the plurality implied in the single subject ‘virgin,’ ðáñèÝíïò , q. d., ‘let the virgins marry.’ ” Neander. [Freedom of opinion and action is wisely allowed in matters morally indifferent. As to what is the specific duty each person must decide for himself].

1Co_7:37. But he who—Here he introduces a case directly the opposite, and with unmistakable approval, as is shown by the last clause. In contrast with the previous one, who has the negative virtue of sinning not, this one ‘doeth well.’ The same may be inferred from the imperatives, which are to be construed as permissive. First, he brings prominently to view the steadfastness and independence of conviction and resolve shown,—hath stood steadfast in his heart,—in contrast with the weakness and dependence of the other, in 1Co_7:36 ( ἑäñáῖïò , fast grounded, found also in 1Co_15:58 and in Col_1:24). [“This allusion here is to a statue standing firm on its pedestal.” Bloomfield]. The points in which this firmness is shown are more fully defined in the two following clauses, which are to be considered as the positive and negative explanation of the first.—having no necessity,—in contrast with the necessity occasioned by the temperament of the daughter, [or any other constraining circumstances] (1Co_7:26)—but has power.—There is an anacoluthon here ἔ÷åé (instead of ἔ÷ùí )—over his own willi.e., to do as he chooses. [“Often the will is one thing, and the power is another.” Bengel]. And what this will is he next states,—and has resolved this in his heart.—By ‘this’ ( ôïὐôï ) he means, but doesn’t say: ‘to keep her unmarried.’—in order to preserve his virgin. ôïῦ ôçñåῖí ôὴí ἐáõôïῦ ðáñèÝíïí . If it read, ôçñåῖí , or, ôὸ ôçñåῖí , then we would simply have here the explanation of what goes before; but since the correct reading, ôïῦ ôçñåῖí is to be regarded as a final clause, this, according to all well established usage, cannot be. We are therefore to take ôçñåῖí ôὴí ðáñèÝíïí not as a periphrasis for: ‘to keep her unmarried;’ but it means: ‘to preserve her in her virgin state, so that she may be holy both in body and in spirit.’ [Hence we might render it: ‘in order to keep her as a virgin’]. Not, however, for the sake of his own paternal interests, as Meyer assumes. This by no means follows from the ἑáõôïῦ , and it must be regarded as a selfish motive, altogether inconsistent with the spirit of the Apostle’s exposition. The whole matter rests upon the paternal authority acknowledged not simply among Jews and Greeks, but also in the sphere of Christian life. And to this also the words ôὴí ðáñèÝíïí åáõôïῦ . refer. But the very manner in which the Apostle treats the affair, indicates that it is not a despotic, reckless rule, but the exercise of an authority which is considerate of the nature, the circumstances and the well being of the daughter, so that the resolve expressed in êÝêñéêåí is to be regarded as a well considered one. The exclusive action of the father in this case, however, indicates a distinction between the customs of antiquity and those of our modern times (comp. Grot. in hoc loco.)—doeth well.—[An approval which went right in the face of Jewish and Gentile opinions and prejudices—a commendation of a course of conduct, which in view of the exigencies of the times, and probabilities of good it involved, might seem desirable; but yet might not be adopted, because of the prevailing views of marriage; and which therefore required the special sanction of the Apostle to strengthen persons in the adoption of it.]

1Co_7:38. So then both he that giveth her in marriage doeth well, and he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.—Here he reaches the result of his discussion. The êáß êáß , both—and, suit properly only to a repetition of the words, ‘doeth well,’ (hence the var. äÝ , in which case the first êáß might be translated, also). It appears as if Paul intended originally to repeat the words, ‘doeth well;’ but then found it more suitable to the relation previously expressed (‘he sinneth not’—‘he doeth well’), to put the second clause in the comparative. The former is well done, as being in accordance with the circumstances, and avoiding disgrace; [indeed, the man would have done wrong, had he acted otherwise]; the latter is better, according to what is said in 1Co_7:34,—[better, not in moral worth, as the Romanists pretend, but in point of advantage, considering the times, and the duties to be performed.]

1Co_7:39-40. The wife is bound by the law so long as her husband liveth.—That which he has said in reference to the marriage of virgins, he now applies to the remarrying of widows. [“There seems to be no doubt entertained respecting the second marriage of the man, probably because in the case of widowers a new marriage was generally of pressing importance, on account of the motherless children; therefore the question here is only touching the woman. The limitation, ‘only in the Lord,’ moreover, must be regarded as referring also to the man (2Co_6:14-15.) Olshausen]. After that he has expressed the woman’s release from obligation to her husband in case of his death, and her liberty to marry again according to her pleasure, on the sole condition that it be a Christian union, he points to the higher satisfaction of remaining in widowhood. But he sets this forth as his own view; which, however, is to be regarded as the view of one who has the spirit of the Lord. The word äÝäåôáé , is bound, as in 1Co_7:29, Rom_7:2, excludes the idea of divorce and marriage with another.—but if her husband ‘sleep,’ i.e., is dead. Rom_7:3. The êáß before êïéìçèῇ , which Tischendorf has accepted, is not sufficiently well attested. In that case it would necessarily be translated: “but in case the man should even die.’—only in the Lord.—These words do not simply mean: ‘in a Christian spirit,’ but they teach that the marriage should be in fellowship with the Lord,—hence a marriage with a Christian (1Co_7:12 ff. refer to marriage before conversion). This only gives to this limitation its proper significance; ìïíïí , as in Gal_2:10.—But she is more blessed.—He presupposes the possibility of an undisturbed devotion to the Lord and His cause, such as shall insure to a Christian woman higher contentment (comp. 1Co_7:34); not simply freedom from tribulation, nor yet higher blessedness in heaven.—if she so remain, i.e., unmarried (comp. 1Co_7:26); “it being supposed that she can preserve herself pure.” Bloomfield.—according to my judgment.—[Is this a modest way of uttering what should be deemed by us authoritative, as coming from one who was inspired by the Spirit; or is it simply the expression of an opinion, which, though coming from an inspired Apostle, was not intended to bind the conscience? In short, is this advice which we are at liberty to set aside, or is it obligatory precept? This question, one would suppose, ought to be decided by the consideration of the source whence it comes. If it proceeds from a person who, however sound in judgment, is still fallible, and has no authority over us, then there would be in us the liberty to differ. But if it comes from the all-wise God, advice at once partakes of the character of a command; for not to follow the best light, not to do the best thing, is certainly sin. Who, then, is the author of the advice—Paul, as a counsellor or friend? or Paul, as an inspired Apostle? This depends on how we interpret the next clause.]—I think also, etc.—There is here a polemic side-glance cast at his opponents, who disparaged him, and refused to recognize him as an Apostle endowed with the Spirit of God equally with the others. Äïêῶ , an ironical Litotes. “The êᾀãù , and I, presents an antagonism against those who ascribed to themselves alone the possession of the Spirit; we detect in these words a side-glance at the Judaizers who refused to acknowledge the authority of the Apostle, and especially contemned the single life so much esteemed by him.” Neander.—[If this construction be correct, then the expression: “I think I have,” is not to be taken as implying any distrust on the Apostle’s part as to his actual possession of the Spirit. On the contrary, there is here, as most commentators concede, “an emphatic meiosis expressive of full persuasion and certainty.” The inference then is, that the “judgment” issuing from this high source, is entitled not only to deference, but to obedience. When it is God that advises, who will venture, or has the liberty to say, Nay?]

[Obs.:—“The arguments by which the Apostle here recommended celibacy to the Corinthians, have been urged by the Papists in support of the rulers of their Church, who oblige the clergy and the monastic orders to live unmarried. And it must be acknowledged, that at first sight, these arguments seem to be properly applied by them. Nevertheless, when it is considered, that the Apostle’s advices were suited to Christians in the then persecuted state of the Church, and were addressed only to such as could live chastely unmarried, it may fairly be presumed, that the Papists have stretched his advices farther than the Apostle intended, when they represent them as binding in all ages and countries, on those who wish to live piously.” Macknight.]


1. Duties of parents towards their children in the matter of marriage. Among the most delicate problems of human life, calling for the exercise of firmness no less than of consideration, of wisdom no less than love, is the right conduct of parents in reference to the marriage of their children—especially of daughters. To insist upon their settlement unconditionally, is, without doubt, unworthy of a Christian, and must be looked upon as the token of a worldly, unbelieving, or, at least, little-believing temper. At all events, regard should be had to this, that a Christian should marry one like-minded. Here, that which is inculcated upon widows in v. 40, holds good absolutely—‘only in the Lord.’ Matrimonial connections between believers and children of this world, entered into out of mere carnal complacency, or with an eye to property and brilliant position in society, and in the hope that some saving influence may at the same time be exerted, are, to say the least, exceedingly hazardous; and they more commonly result in a way directly the opposite of the one counted on—the secularization of the believing party (comp. Genesis 6). All such connections Christian parents should aim to hinder, rather than help; yea, they should endeavor, by all the means in their power, to restrain and hold back their children from them, even though it be at the cost of much pain and bitter struggle. Cases may indeed occur, when yielding will be unavoidable; but, at all events, consent should not be granted without giving earnest warning of the sad mistake committed, and of the great responsibility and danger incurred.—Again, if it be seen that a daughter has little or no inclination to marry, and that she is endowed with special gifts for the service of the Lord in her virgin state, and that she takes delight in such service, then does it become the parent to stand fast against all solicitation on the part of suitors and relatives, and to sustain their child in her endeavors to devote herself to the Divine calling. But the deliberation in the case must be a comprehensive one, weighing well all circumstances, and attended with earnest prayer for that Divine wisdom, which will enable the parents to examine the inward and outward condition of their daughter, and to distinguish clearly between caprice and prudery and carnal desire to consult her own convenience on the one hand, and a true spiritual firmness and proper regard for the service of the Lord on the other; and also for that simplicity of heart which shall exclude all selfish interests, and leave no room for after regrets to come up and harass when it is too late.

2. [Marriage being a Divine institution, and designed to subserve the highest moral and spiritual interests of mankind, and being then most truly blessed when occurring “in the Lord,” it is eminently fitting that the solemnization should be a religious act, performed by a minister, and under the sanction of the Church. “The custom of thus making it an ecclesiastical ceremonial,” says Besser, “is as certainly in harmony with its character as a union in the Lord, as the popular cry for civil marriage accords with the declaration: ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’ ”]

3. [“The practice of the highest duties of Christianity is compatible with every station and condition of life that is not in itself unlawful. If even the degraded state of slavery be consistent with the cultivation of the true spirit of Christian liberty, if even the great religious divisions of Jew and Gentile may be regarded as alike compatible with the service of God, then in all other states in life equally the spirit of the Apostolic injunctions may be observed where, in the letter, they seem most disregarded. Freedom from worldly cares may be maintained in the married as well as in the single state; indifference to worldly gain may exist in riches, no less than in poverty. Our nearness to God depends not on our desertion of one religious community for another, but on our keeping His commandments in whatever religious community His providence has placed us.” Stanley].

4. [Right and wrong, though absolute in their essential principles, yet, as determinable in the forms of human conduct, can seldom be defined and enforced by specific rules. Much here depends on the peculiarities of personal condition and circumstance. What may be proper and beneficial for one, may prove equally unseemly and hurtful for another. Yea, the particular duty of a person in reference to the same thing, is often modified or even reversed by changes of time and place. Hence, in relation to the details of conduct, the best course t