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First Corinthians 7--Marriage and Celibacy, Final

Mar 27, 2017

1 Corinthians 7:15 says,

15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.

To “leave,” in this case, means to leave one’s marriage. Unbelief in itself is not a cause for divorce. In other words, believers should not divorce their unbelieving spouses. But if the unbelieving spouse does not want to remain married to a believer, he or she should be allowed to leave. Do not fight it, because “God has called us to peace.” A divorce should be granted, as the divine law allows.

Divorce is not a sin, unless it is done without cause or for frivolous reasons. Further, of course, even beyond the legal issues, one should be led by the Spirit in all things. If one acts within legal rights, but with carnal motives and leading, rather than by faith, which comes by hearing the voice of the Spirit, it is still a sin, because “whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).

Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 7:16, 17,

16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? 17 Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And thus I direct in all the churches.

In other words, Paul’s counsel was that a marriage between a believer and an unbeliever was an opportunity for the believing spouse to manifest Christ to the other and thereby perhaps save him or her.

The leading of the Spirit is addressed in verse 17. The phrase, “as the Lord has assigned to each one,” refers to the divine plan that is unique to each person. It is unique because “God has called each” in a unique path. No two people are fully alike, so we should all be careful not to judge others by the different path that God has chosen for them.

This is Paul’s directive, not only to the Corinthian church, but to “all the churches.”

Paul then turns to related issues regarding the various paths and callings that God has given to people. Jews come to Christ, having been circumcised, while Greeks come to Christ in uncircumcision. Some come to Christ as slaves, others as freemen. Some come to Christ after they are married, others as singles. Whenever a person comes to Christ, the situation changes, and the person must then follow the leading of the Spirit according to the state in which he or she was at that moment in time.


This is part 29 of a series titled "Studies in First Corinthians." To view all parts, click the link below.

Studies in First Corinthians


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Category: Teachings
Blog Author: Dr. Stephen Jones