In married life there are many blessings. However, in 1 Corinthians 7 it is not Paul’s intention to stress the blessed side of marriage. On the contrary, his emphasis is mainly on the troubles and distractions related to married life. The reason for this emphasis is that here he is answering questions raised by the Corinthians. As we have pointed out, thoughtful, philosophical people have many questions about marriage. To answer the questions raised by the Corinthian believers, Paul sets forth a number of basic principles concerning married life. It is profitable to consider these principles, for they help to answer our questions and also bring us into the enjoyment of blessing in our married life.
In the foregoing message we pointed out that these basic principles include the following: it being good for a man not to touch a woman (v. 1); devoting ourselves to prayer (v. 5a); giving no occasion to Satan (v. 5b); the gift we have received from God (v. 7); remaining unmarried (vv. 8, 26-27, 40); better to marry if we lack self-control (v. 9); remaining in marriage so that the unbelieving party may be saved (vv. 13-14, 16); allowing the unbelieving party to leave so that the believing party may live in peace (v. 15); remaining in the status of our calling (vv. 20, 24); seeking to care for the things of the Lord free from other cares (vv. 32, 34); waiting on the Lord without distraction (v. 35); a virgin giving his virginity in marriage doing well, and one deciding to keep his virginity doing better (vv. 36-38); a wife being free, after the death of her husband, to be married to another in the Lord (v. 39).
As we read this chapter and pay attention to these principles, we also need to touch the spirit of the writer. Paul’s spirit is expressed in what he writes. For this reason, we should not only be familiar with the principles, but also touch the apostle’s spirit. If we do not know the spirit of the writer in this chapter, this indicates that we have not adequately considered all the principles.
We have pointed out that 1 Corinthians 7 is an answer to questions written to Paul by the philosophical believers at Corinth. In this chapter many points are covered, each of which is an answer to a question asked by the Corinthians. Thus, the many points in this chapter indicate that the Corinthian believers certainly had many questions concerning their married life.
Nothing is more representative of human life than married life. In a sense, human life is simply married life. The matters involving our work and daily living are related to married life. For this reason, we may say that married life represents human living.
In answering the questions raised by the Corinthians concerning married life, Paul was simple, direct, frank, and genuine. He did not say anything ambiguous or speak in a political way. Furthermore, he answered all the questions according to his Christian experience. This is why he says in verse 7, “I wish all men to be even as myself.” In verse 8 he declares, “It is good for them if they remain even as I.” This indicates that Paul answers the questions concerning marriage according to what he is in his being and living. Thus, if we would have a thorough understanding of this chapter, we need to ask what Paul lived for. Paul was an absolute person. His spirit was absolute for the Lord and His economy. As we read this chapter, we realize that Paul’s aspiration was for all the believers to imitate him and follow him in being for the Lord. Here Paul seems to be saying, “I am absolute for the Lord, and I hope that you will all be the same. In this matter I want you all to follow me.”
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