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MAY 2006


We may make Paul’s writings hard to understand because we want to transpose some of the passages into different sections to make them fit our special circumstances. We may also become stuck on preconceived meanings of words and phrases rather than looking closely at the context. In the final analysis, we can not come up with conclusions on this chapter that are not in agreement with commands and principles on marriage law taught elsewhere in the New Testament. With many hours of study and prayer I wish to humbly present my study on the subject.


There are distinct separations in Paul’s narrative to the Corinthians that are definite and separate subject matters as illustrated by the breaks shown in the following:


1 Cor 7:1

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.”



1 Cor 7:25

Now 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.”



1 Cor 8:1

Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.”



1 Cor 12:1

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.”



1 Cor 16:1

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.”



In the beginning of the first section of this chapter (verses 1-7), we are given the answers about the relationship between a man-husband and a woman-wife in marriage.


1 Cor 7:1-7

1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

6 But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.

7 For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.



It is better (good) for a man not to have sexual relations (not touch) a woman. Avoiding fornication in this congregation was a problem because like any large commercial city, Corinth was a center for open and unbridled immorality. The worship of Aphrodite fostered prostitution in the exercise of religion. At one time, 1000 sacred prostitution served her temple. So widely known did the immorality of Corinth become that the Greek verb ‘to Corinthianize’ came to mean ‘to practice sexual immorality’. In a setting like this it is no wonder the Corinthian church was plagued with numerous problems.


Paul establishes the plan of God’s marriage law:

[one man (husband) + one woman (wife) = one flesh.]


Verses 3-5 outline the husband’s and wife’s obligation to each other.


Verse 7 is Paul’s way of saying what Jesus taught about each person facing the issue of being married or not being married on his own terms.


Matt 19:10-12

10 The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry."

11 Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given.

12 For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it."



The next two verses are a different subset of the answers on marriage. The NAS and NIV translators make a paragraph break at verse eight.


1 Cor 7:8-9

8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.

9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.



It is good (also) that unmarried and widows stay single like Paul, but if they cannot they can go ahead and get married.


The next two verses explain the permanency of the marriage bond with the one flesh law, ‘until death do us part’.


1 Cor 7:10-11

10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.



The phrases ‘let not the wife depart from her husband’ and ‘let not the husband put away his wife’ are really the same action. It may be that the culture allowed the husband to be the primary one to take action in a divorce. Thus the expression put away is said of the husband. Regardless a separated wife (mate) must either remain unmarried or be reconciled. Here divorce is not an option. There should always be left an opportunity for getting back together. Paul’s answer on how permanent the marriage bond is gives no exception to the rule. He did address fornication in that he said to avoid it by staying married. The category ‘unmarried’ can mean here staying single and not remarrying. Later in verse 32 the phrase unmarried refers to a virgin [woman] or to a man not married.


The law of marriage shown above in verses 10-11 agrees with other passages on this subject as:


Rom 7:2-3

2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.



Mark 10:2-12

2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.

3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?

4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.

5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.

6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;

8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.

11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.

12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.



Luke 16:18

18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.



On this same subject of marriage, Paul next addresses another group, ‘the rest‘.


1 Cor 7:12-14

12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.



The apostle uses the same phrases of husband, ‘let him not put her away’ and wife, ‘let her not leave him’ as he did concerning the married Christian’s in verses 10 and 11 above. For a recent convert (believer) whose spouse hadn’t converted (unbeliever); he speaks that they should stay together and not separate. Becoming a Christian did not violate their one flesh bond.

The sanctification (setting apart as holy) is accomplished by or through the believing spouse. This passage does not say that God sanctified the marriage when one of the partners was baptized. The unbeliever is sanctified by the believer. This sanctification by the believer could not make a union that was not in harmony with God’s law of marriage from the beginning. The following relationships could never be sanctified:


1. Polygamy (multiple partners) based on the scriptural principal, ‘let every man have his own wife and let every woman have her own husband’ (I Cor. 7:2).


2. Incest with a family member or near kin as shown in the illustration of ‘sexual immorality of a man having his father’s wife’ (I Cor. 5:1).


3. With a living spouse so that the current ‘marriage’ is adultery as shown in these examples-


A. John the Baptist to king Herod, ‘it is not lawful for you to have her, (your brother Phillip’s wife)’ {Mt. 14:3-4}. This example shows that even Gentiles with out the law were subject to God’s eternal law of one flesh as marriage.


B. the Samaritan woman at the well, ‘the man you now have is not your husband’ (John 4:18).


C. Non Christians before baptism can have the sin of adultery or of homosexuality as shown in this passage-


1 Cor 6:9-11

9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.



The fornicator can not continue living in sin. The idolater must get the practice out of his/her life. The homosexual can not continue this practice of sin. Thieves must steal no more but work with their hands. Drunkards must give up the bottle. Covetous, revilers, and extortionist have to stop their practices of greed and arrogance. Now with all these past unrighteous acts washed away to make one sanctified, it is not rational that God would make an exception to say adultery is forgiven so you can keep on living with some one other them your one flesh first spouse.


Adultery or any other sin requires real repentance that involves change, turning to God and actions to rectify the wrong.


Acts 26:20

20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.



Bible repentance is not a general feeling sorry for one’s action but necessities a real change. This change may require a giving up of actions and of rectifying wrongs.


2 Cor 7:9-10

9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.

10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.



Another aspect of the concept of a believer sanctifying the unbeliever can be understood in the principle of the change God allowed in making all foods clean under the New Testament. This is shown in the following:


1 Tim 4:3-4

3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:



Every creature of God is now good.

Marriage (God’s joining) has been a holy covenant.

All food received with thanksgiving under the new covenant is good.

Couples who are pleased to dwell together are now made holy



1 Cor 7:15

15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.



An unbeliever departing is a separation and not a formal divorce. The phrase ‘not under bondage’ does not mean the marriage bond (glue) is broken. The Greek word for bondage here means slavery.


The following are definitions from Thayer and Strong’s Greek lexicons:


1402  douloo-

1) to make a slave of, reduce to bondage

2) metaphorically, give myself wholly to one's needs and service, make myself a bondman to him


1402  douloo (doo-lo'-o);

from 1401; to enslave (literally or figuratively):


KJV-- bring into (be under) bondage, X given, become (make) servant.


David Lipscomb in his commentary on this verse says, “The meaning most likely is that the believer can regard the unbeliever’s act as final, and need not seek to live with him, while yet in such cases  remarriage is not approved”.  He goes on to state that there is so much looseness in the churches on the marriage relation and little regard for scriptures. 



The key to understanding verse 15 is its context of God calling us to peace. That is God calls a couple to a peaceful coexistence and not being forced to follow a pagan to where ever they go especially if they choose to run off . A believer is not under bondage to run after or leave Christianity for a departing unbelieving spouse. The principle of peace is based upon what we can do in keeping the peace.


Rom 12:18

18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.



No where does Paul ever hint that if an unbeliever departs, that it is ok for a Christian to seek a divorce and remarry. If God waits patiently for everyone to come to repentance who are we to say that a separated unbelieving spouse can be given no opportunity or time to repentance. If we say divorce is allowed because the unbeliever departs then what do we do if later they are converted - do we say God calls them as ‘unmarried’ thus sanctioning divorce.


The main purpose of a believer being called in a mixed marriage is first to peace and if possible then to conversion of the unbelieving spouse.


1 Cor 7:16-17

16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

Peter explains this function as if refers to wives.


1 Pet 3:1-2

1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.



In answering the question of unbelieving spouses, Paul uses the Hebrew method of explaining the subject and then using illustrations of truisms to further explain the principle. John the Baptist used this technique when preaching to the Jewish leaders of his day.


Matt 3:7-12

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.



Using this technique, Paul explains the requirement of a believer walking/abiding in the calling so that a believer remains in a willing/peaceful marriage, but is not enslaved to continue if the unbeliever walks out.

Secondly, he explains the calling of being circumcised or called being uncircumcised is nothing to worry about.


1 Cor 7:18-20

18 Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.

19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.



The phrase ‘let him not be circumcised’ refers to not being enslaved to the Jewish law.

This slavery was broken by the death of Christ.


Rom 7:4

4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.



Paul’s summary states that keeping the commandments of God is what matters or what counts.


Gal 5:6

6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.



The third explanation of the principle of bondage is the illustration of slavery.


1 Cor 7:20-24

20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

21 Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.

22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant.

23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.



Called servants abide as servants of Christ.


Eph 6:5-8

5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:

8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.



So we see from both the meaning of the original Greek word for bondage and from the context of these passages it is understood that when an unbelieving spouse leaves the believer (he/she) is not bound (enslaved). This topic on bondage is illustrated also by circumcision bondage and by legal servitude.


            As the Lord called everyone so let him walk-


{unbelieving spouse}


            Be pleased to dwell                  not put away/not leave


            Sanctified by                             believing spouse


            Not under bondage                   called to peace




            Is nothing                                  let not become/ let not be


            Keeping God’s commands        is what counts (NIV)


            Compelled is bondage              see Gal 2:3-5



Gal 2:3-5

3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:

4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.






            Care not for it                           be not servant of men


            May be free use it


            Lord’s freeman             bought with a price

            Christ’ servant


The next verses are definitely a new topic and a new set of answers of the subject of ‘virgins’. This new section is designated by the phrase ‘Now concerning virgins’ which is a new paragraph in this chapter.


1 Cor 7:25-26

25 Now 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.

26 I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.



The term virgin as used in the New Testament primarily refers to a never married female. We will however see from the context that the subject of virgins also refers broadly to all unmarried people even though the term specifically refers to female. Paul uses the expression ‘it is good for a man so to be’. As pointed out by Jesus some men are eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. Paul says that it is good to stay single under the current circumstances.


The phrase ‘present distress’ introduced in verse 26 and expanded later on describes a special circumstance that effected the disciples at Corinth and through out the Roman Empire. I do not believe that the apostle Paul was referring to the worldly immorality in their community as he described the situation more fully in verses 28-32. The present distress or as some translations render a pending distress was shortly to happen. This letter to the Corinthian church was written about 55 A.D. As many historians point out this was a time of chaos in the Roman Empire. The abomination of desolation spoken by the prophet Daniel was sited by Jesus in his answer to the end of the temple and destruction of Jerusalem was to happen in A.D. 70.


Luke 21:20-24

20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.

21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.

22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.

24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.



1 Cor 7:27

27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.



In understanding verse 27 we first note that this is part of his answer for the section on ‘concerning virgins’ and does not refer backwards to the previous discussion concerning unbelieving spouses. That he is talking about the subject of virgins is evident from the following:


1. He made a subject break at verse 25


2. He addresses virgins only in the verses before and after this verse (27)


3. It is not logical, with out any reference to discuss a foreign concept in the middle of another discussion


4. All of Paul’s other writings are logical in there presentation.


Secondly, I believe he is using an Idiom or figure of speech. This is in order to bring on the principle or the rational for remaining single. The use of various figures of speech concerning the marriage subject are illustrated in the following:



1 Cor 6:12-13

12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.



This figure of speech was used by the immoral to justify fornication. In that they said the body was made for sexual activities just like the stomach is made for meats. The Idiom is used on one statement to illustrate a different concept.


A similar figure of speech was used by the disciples to describe their deep concern for not getting married because to cleave was for your life.  They said it is better not to marry.


Matt 19:10

10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.





A different use of a figure of speech is used by Paul to use a true statement to illustrate another concept. The statement about the law of marriage by itself is true, but it is used to illustrate like concept.



Rom 7:1-3

1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?

2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.




In I Cor. 7:27 it is true that the expression ‘bound unto a wife’ means the marriage bond or tie.




1. deo ^1210^, "to bind," is used

(a) literally, of any sort of "binding," e. g., <Acts 22:5; 24:27>,

(b) figuratively, of the Word of God, as not being "bound," <2 Tim. 2:9>

i. e., its ministry, course and efficacy were not hindered by the bonds and imprisonment suffered by the apostle. A woman who was bent together, had been "bound" by Satan through the work of a demon, <Luke 13:16>.

Paul speaks of himself, in <Acts 20:22>, as being "bound in the spirit," i. e. compelled by his convictions, under the constraining power of the Spirit of God, to go to Jerusalem. A wife is said to be "bound" to her husband, <Rom. 7:2; 1 Cor. 7:39>; and the husband to the wife, <1 Cor. 7:27>.

The Lord's words to the apostle Peter in <Matt. 16:19>, as to "binding," and to all the disciples in <18:18>, signify, in the former case, that the apostle, by his ministry of the Word of Life, would keep unbelievers outside the kingdom of God, and admit those who believed. So with regard to <18:18>, including the exercise of disciplinary measures in the sphere of the local church; the application of the rabbinical sense of forbidding is questionable. See BOND, KNIT, Note, TIE.

(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)

(Copyright (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)


The word(s) ‘loosed’ come from two different forms of the same word. The first in ‘seek not to be loosed’ evidently means separated or divorced. The second in ’art thou loosed’ means to release. This second word does not carry with it a meaning of only divorced. It could also mean ’art thou ’- unencumbered; or widowed; or engaged but not yet married; or never married; or single-foot loose and fancy free; or not ever been married-hitched.





lusis ^3080^, "a loosening" (akin to A, No. 1), <1 Cor. 7:27>, of divorce, is translated "to be loosed," lit., "loosing."

In the second part of the verse the verb luo is used.  In the Sept., <Eccl. 8:1>, with the meaning "interpretation."

(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)

(Copyright (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)



I believe Paul is using a figure of speech to tell virgins under the present distress don’t even think about changing your status. It is a true statement that if you were married don’t try to undo your status and if you are single don’t change you status either.


1 Cor 7:28

28 But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.



Some have a challenge with the phrase ‘if thou marry, thou hast not sinned’ and ‘if a virgin marry she hath not sinned’. The ‘thou’ addressed here is an unmarried man as contrasted with the virgin (unmarried woman). For either single person to marry will cause problems because of the fleshly nature. To think that Paul has split this answer to virgins with another class like those of the rest way back in verse 12 is illogical. This would be like switching horses in the middle of the stream to use another figure of speech. To assume that the ’thou’ here is a divorced man would make Paul contradict all of the other scriptures on the principle of one man-one woman as the one flesh concept of God’s marriage law. What God has joined together let not man put asunder. Verse 28 is in no way a justification for divorce and remarriage. It says that if an unmarried man or a virgin women marry they have not sinned.


1 Cor 7:29-31

29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;

30 And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not;

31 And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.



The time is short because of the present distress. The fashion of the world (civilization as they knew it would soon change) passeth away as evidenced by the following situations:


Wives as though they had none


They weep as though they wept not


They rejoice as though they rejoice not


They buy as though they possessed not


They use this world as not abusing it


For the fashion of this world passeth away 


There are other reasons why virgins should remain unmarried.


1 Cor 7:32-35

32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:

33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

34 There 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.

35 And 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.



He wants them to be without care or concern. Carefulness is based on our obligation to our mate which is a distraction.  


            May please or careth for


            Unmarried (virgins) -----Lord, made holy


            Married ------------------ world, wife




1 Cor 7:36-38

36 But 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.

37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.

38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.



This section addressed another class of virgins. These are what we would designate as old maids or spinsters and their counter parts of their fathers/guardians and/or prospective husbands. The meaning of this passage is not completely clear. It can be understood as either the relationship with a spinster virgin and her engaged fiancée or with her guardian/father. Either meaning is compatible with the context of Paul’s answers. Vine says the term ‘behaveth himself uncomely’ means so as to run the risk of bringing the virgin into danger or disgrace.

In the society of that day it was thought to be a problem for a mature women not to be married off. Remember the case of Laban who passed off his older daughter to Jacob instead of her younger sister Rachel. Now it is clear from this answer that it is alright to go ahead and marry an older virgin. It is also evident that it is acceptable for someone to give her in marriage (grant permission) The NAS renders the passage with virgin (daughter) as understood.


1 Cor 7:37-38

37 But he who stands firm in his heart, being under no constraint, but has authority over his own will, and has decided this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin {daughter,} he will do well.

38 So then both he who gives his own virgin {daughter} in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better.



Paul thinks that it is better for older virgins to remain single.


1 Cor 7:39-40

39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

40 But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.



This last class of ‘virgins’ has to do with married women who become single through widowhood. Paul uses a true statement of the law of marriage to set up this final answer. It is a similar phraseology as used in verse 27 above concerning bound until death, then the liberty to remarry. He concludes that she should ‘abide’ as single. If the case for a widow to marry only in the Lord is a command to a seasoned Christian, then it would be wise for young Christians to do the same.


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