1 Corinthians 7:17-40: Marriage and Singleness
April 10, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Paul continues to work out the implications of the principles related to sex and marriage that he taught in the first part of this chapter.
The first part of this new section establishes an important application regarding slavery. While Paul argued that new Christians should make the most of the situation and life circumstance that they were in when they were called, he also said that if someone can gain their freedom as a slave, he should do so. Sometimes we are too quick to try to change our circumstances; instead, we should do what we can to have an impact upon our circumstances. Instead of asking, “How can I get out of here to find something better?” ask, “How can I impact where I am for the sake of the gospel?” But that said, when it comes to slavery, if someone was able to gain their freedom, they should do so. This is an important application because it is one of several texts that make it clear that Paul did not support slavery per se, but rather taught people how to live as Christians if they had to be slaves. But if they could gain their freedom, they should do so.
The second part of the section returns more directly to the matter of sex and marriage. Here he urges that if someone is single (a “virgin”), then in his judgment, it is better that they remain so. Because of the urgency of the gospel hour in which we live, we are to make the most of the time and use every hour we have to advance the gospel. Remember that Paul has already taught that marriage was to be pursued if one cannot be single. But here again, singleness is held up as a mode of life which can lead to great gospel productivity. If you are single, consider how you can use your singleness to serve the Lord in the family of the church. Certainly, one is free to marry should one choose, but that person must “belong to the Lord.” Christians are to seek to marry Christians. You want to marry someone who not only calls themselves a Christian, but “belongs to the Lord”; someone who loves Jesus and is fully committed to Jesus. But still, Paul concludes, if someone does have the gift of singleness, then it is better that they remain single.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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