Home Bible Study

"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

Search HBS Bible Lessons

Friday, April 29, 2016

1 Corinthians (Lesson 22)

Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                     Published weekly on Friday
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4

1 Corinthians                                                                         (Lesson 22)

Whenever I teach a class I begin by telling the students to picture themselves in the time period they are studying.  To do this you’ll need to read up on the historical setting of that era.  The next thing you need to do is determine who wrote the book or letter your about to study, who was it written to, and why was it written. 

Here we have our Apostle Paul writing to the Corinthian Believers, who are not that far removed from their idolatrous and immoral background, i.e. paganism, and they are “hung up,” so to speak, on the subject of marriage and divorce.  To be candid, pagans didn’t respect marriage.  Women had few rights in Paul’s day and men were not expected to remain faithful to their spouse.  They were pagans in every sense of the word, until Paul and God’s Word came along.


Please open your Bible at 1 Corinthians 7:10

1 Corinthians 7

10: But to the married I give instructions (Paraggello in the Greek language; pronounced:  par-ang-gel’-lo, a verb, meaning – to command, order, charge), not I, but (who) the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband

Right off the bat in verse 10, Paul wants the Corinthians to know the following instructions do not come from him, but the Lord.  Paul is reminding these Believers of Jesus Christ’s teaching on the subject of divorce and remarriage (Matthew 19:3-12).   

Paul uses the same Greek word that he had previously used in the Thessalonian letters for a direct command Paraggello (see 1 Thessalonians 4 & 2 Thessalonians 3).  So, what Paul says here is not his personal preference, but a matter of following the direct command of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Any covenant, including the marriage covenant, is a binding, substantial obligation for both the husband and the wife.  In Proverbs 20:25 it says:  It is a trap for a person to say impulsively, “This is a holy offering!” and later to have second thoughts about those vows.  So, in verse 10 Paul addresses Believers who are married and he discusses the topic of divorce and remarriage and he does not mince words saying:  the wife should not leave her husband.  You don’t need to be a Harvard graduate to decipher his meaning.  If the question in the lost letter was, “Can I divorce my husband?”  God’s answer is, “No!” 

The word leave in the Greek language is Chorizo (pronounced:  kho-rid’-zo), a Verb, and it means – to separate from, to put away, to depart.  This is the same word used by Jesus Christ when He said, “…Therefore, don’t let anyone separate what God has joined together.”  (Matthew 19:6b) 

For those who are married already, the wife should not leave the husband or divorce him, and the husband should not abandon or divorce his wife.  The marriage should remain intact, and divorce is not an option.  In fact, from the beginning, divorce or separation has never been God’s plan (Matthew 19:4-6). 

God permitted it in His dealings with the nation of Israel under the Prophetic Program but this ruling doesn’t carry over into the Dispensation of Grace.  The writing of divorce He instructed Moses to give to the hard-hearted Israelites to cover the one exception of adultery, i.e. fornication, was based on the fact that Jehovah’s wife, Israel, had to be divorced because of multiple idolatries.  One day future true Israel will be restored and re-united again to her true Husband (Jeremiah 3:20; Isaiah 54:5-8).

If divorce should occur between two Believers, the marriage is still intact before God because of the covenant entered into by both parties (Romans 7:1-3, Malachi 2:14-16, 1 Corinthians 7:39).  This means it is not right to divorce and then remarry.  This is because of the fact that marriage is a permanent covenant until the death of a spouse.  Thus, to remarry after a divorce is still adultery (Matthew 5:32).  If a divorce occurs, then both parties should remain single.  The desirable outcome is for them to reconcile and recommit themselves to one another.  Thus both husband and wife should be wary of the danger of committing adultery. 

Let’s go to verses 11-16. 

1 Corinthians 7

11: (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

It’s difficult to miss Paul’s parenthetical comment here in verse 11.  Although God’s command forbids separation and divorce between Believers, Paul recognized that some of these marriages are going to eventually break apart:

a)      The Corinthians are not that far removed from paganism  
b)     They’re operating in Satan’s realm, so they will suffer hardship and stress. 

If Believers do leave their marriage partners, Paul offered two options:

1)      Remain unmarried, or
2)      Be reconciled to the original partner.

Take notice that it is the Believer who separates that must make the effort to reconcile with the other spouse (v11).  But reconciliation could not take place, if the departing spouse decided to remarry, so Paul stresses the importance of remaining unmarried while making every effort to reconcile all their differences.  Note:  learn to communicate.  It is also the duty of the one who remains behind not to remarry.

Let’s go to verses 12-14.

1 Corinthians 7

12: But to the rest, I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her.

13: And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away.

14: For the unbelieving husband is sanctified (set apart) through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.

Some of the people in Corinth had come to faith in Jesus Christ while they were married and their marriage partner did not make the same decision for the Lord, so this created a mixed marriage – meaning a Believer was married to an unbeliever.  Evidently, some of these folks thought it wrong to stay married to an unbeliever, and that their marriage covenant became void (they wanted a “do-over”) after they put their faith in Christ.

When you have a Believer married to an unbeliever, obviously there is going to be friction or conflict because the two are unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14).  But Paul said a husband and wife who were married as unbelievers cannot claim that their new faith nullifies their marriage.  Again, Paul gave this instruction and not the Lord:  I say, not the Lord.  So, Paul is saying, since Jesus gave no specific instructions on the subject of mix-marriages, he would provide it under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  His advice matching what the Lord said. 

If the unbelieving spouse is willing to live with the believing spouse, then the Believer must not divorce the unbeliever – the marriage is valid.  The marriage should not experience separation, particularly since the unbeliever could still come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. 

For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.

After reading this verse it’s not too difficult to surmise that some of the Believers in Corinth wanted to separate from their unbelieving partners thinking that they would be “defiled” by the unbelievers, and their children would be corrupted by the unholy union.  Paul responds to this question by saying the opposite of this is true. 

Believers need not fret that they themselves, their marriage, or their children would be defiled by their unbelieving spouse.  On the contrary, both the unbelieving spouse and the children would be sanctified through the believing spouse.  Paul’s point is this:  it only takes one believing spouse to sanctify a home.  Again, sanctify means to “set apart.”  In God’s eyes, a home is “set apart” for Himself when the husband, wife, or any family member for that matter becomes a Believer.  Even if the Believer in this home is criticized, ridiculed, and scorned by the unbelievers in the home, the family is blessed by God because of the one Believer.  Don’t overlook the fact that the Holy Spirit dwells within that one Believer.  God has taken up residence there and this makes all the difference. 

for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy – if both the husband and wife were unbelievers, then yes the children would be considered unclean (enemies of God) according to this book.  But the Lord guarantees that the presence of just one Believer in the home will protect the children.  It does not assure their salvation.  But they are protected from spiritual harm and they will receive spiritual blessing because they share in the spiritual benefits of their one believing parent; they are holy.   Many times the testimony of the believing parent in this situation is effective because the children see a clear contrast between the unbelieving parent’s lifestyle and the believing parent’s walk with the Lord and this leads them to the Jesus Christ.

Let’s go to verse 15.

1 Corinthians 7 

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

Paul had dealt with the instance of the mixed marriage where an unbeliever was willing to stay, but now here in verse 15 he deals with the other alternative.  If the unbeliever leaves (deserts) the Believer, he or she should allow them to go.  If the unbeliever agrees to stay in the marital relationship the Believer is bound to remain also, but if the unbeliever leaves then the Believer is not under bondage. 

If the unbeliever goes his or her own way, then the Believer is not bound to maintain the marriage or provide for the one who left.  Paul’s words free the Believer from any blame or shame resulting from the separation he or she could do nothing about.  But the unbeliever had to decide on their own to leave; the Believer must have no part in it. 

God has called us to peace – so if the unbeliever goes their own way, he or she is allowed to do so peaceably rather than adding contention and strife to this very emotional event.  Paul said it is possible for a Believer to maintain peace because it is not primarily derived from a husband or a wife, but from the Lord Jesus Christ.  No matter what is occurring in our lives, Believers can have peace because they are in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-9).

Let’s move on to verse 16

1 Corinthians 7

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?

If you’ve been with HBS for any length of time, then you know you and I cannot save any one; only God, through the work of the Holy Spirit accomplishes this (Acts 16:14; 1 Corinthians 3:6). 

This being the case, what’s Paul talking about?  Scripture holds the answer, as usual.  Please turn with me to 1 Peter 3:1 Wives, in a similar way, place yourselves under your husbands’ authority.  Some husbands may not obey God’s word.  Their wives could win these men [for Christ] (not by dragging them kicking and screaming to church, or by hitting them over the head with the Bible, but) by the way they live without saying anything.  Their husbands would see how pure and reverent their lives are. 

Peter said:  don’t harass you’re husband; that tactic seldom if ever works, but keep on doing what you’re doing – living the Christ-like life; talking the talk, and walking the walk, and praying, and the Holy Spirit may just soften the unbelieving heart of your mate.  So, Paul is saying if a wife or husband finds themselves in a marital relationship with an unbeliever, hang in there.  Don’t give up.  Do what you know you’re supposed to do and then one day the Gospel of Jesus Christ just might mean everything to your spouse (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Let’s go to verses 17-24.

1 Corinthians 7

17: Only as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him (or her) walk.  And so I direct in all the churches. 

18:  Was any man called when he was already circumcised?  He is not to become uncircumcised.  Has anyone been called in uncircumcision?  He is not to be circumcised.

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

20: Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called.

One of the main causes of strife in the Corinthian church was race and religion (7:18-20).
Earlier in the lesson, I noted that this church had its beginnings in a Jewish synagogue.
Thus some of the Corinthians evidently felt that the Jews were more religious than the Gentiles.  Some of them wanted to be circumcised, and join, as it were, the Hebrew race. 

On the other hand, many of the Jews felt that their position was a hindrance to them.  They had heard Paul’s preaching on God’s Grace and how this applied to all the nations and come to rejoice in the glorious liberty of Believers in Christ Jesus, entirely apart from circumcision or the Law.  Since the Gentiles at Corinth still naturally looked upon these folks as Jews, some of them were tempted to become uncircumcised, evidently by a surgical operation, so as to sever themselves completely from Judaism and the Law.

This is why Paul wrote:  Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.  Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called (7:19-20).

Circumcision was, of course, the basic religious rite of Judaism (Genesis 17).  It was the ceremony that separated the people of Israel from the rest of the pagan world.  But now there is no difference.  Our Apostle Paul writes:  You are all God’s children by believing in Christ Jesus.   Clearly, all of you who were baptized in Christ’s name have clothed yourselves with Christ.   There are neither Jews nor Greeks, slaves nor free people, males nor females.  You are all the same in Christ Jesus.

Let’s go to verses 21:24.

1 Corinthians 7

21: Were you called while a slave?  Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that.

22: For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave.

23: You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.

24: Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called.

Why the question of slavery (7:21-24) was posed by the Corinthian church is as obscured as these other questions.  The Greek word Doulos (pronounced:  doo’-los), a Noun, used four times in these verses, does not denote voluntary or hired service as does the Greek word Diakonos, but forced service, i.e. slavery.  So, evidently forced slavery posed a significant problem for the Corinthian Believers.  But why was this question on Paul’s list?  Let’s consider the conditions involved in slavery in those days to see if it helps our understanding. 

First, the culture of ancient Corinth was Roman and not Greek.  In Paul’s day men were held as slaves for various reasons.  Some were purchased at slave markets.  Others were acquired in war and were felt to be the legitimate property or spoils of conquest.  Still others (including some of those bought at the slave markets) served as slaves to pay off their debts – the result of bankruptcy cases. 

Hebrew and Roman laws were not as lenient as our modern American laws where bankruptcy is concerned.  A man could not waste his funds in reckless business ventures and then leave his debts unpaid simply by going into bankruptcy and filing chapter 7, 11, 12, or 13.  If an Israelite found himself unable to continue in business because of unpaid debts, he either declared himself bankrupt or was declared bankrupt by his creditors.  He was then “sold” (or he sold himself) to someone who was financially able to meet his obligations for him, and he generally worked without earning any wages for this master until his account was settled.  This was the way it was handled under Roman law as well, and this is where the Scriptural law of “Kinsman Redeemer” originated, for a wealthy Jewish kinsman could redeem the slave from bondage by paying off his debt (Leviticus 25:47-48).

So, there were legitimate reasons for slavery in Paul’s day – the condition did exist.  Now what should be done about it?  Let’s begin with this:  Whether bondservant or master, both hold the same position before the righteous and holy God.  Thus, Paul suggests that should a slave be presented with an opportunity to be free he should take advantage of it.  Were you called while a slave?  Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that.

But if in bondage, he said:  For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave.

According to my research, people either skip over this verse because they don’t understand Paul’s meaning or in attempting to interpret it they “miss the target” altogether.  I don’t think Paul’s message could be any clearer.  It is the Lord Jesus Christ who asks the believing bond-slave, and I’m paraphrasing, “Be content in your position; do this for Me.  I’m the One who loves you and bought you with My own life’s blood.”

Read verse 23, with the above thought in mind:  You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.  Paul is saying, the bond-slave is not in bondage to any man, but to Christ, who bought both servant and master with His precious blood, that they might be His loving, willing bond-slaves.  This is the attitude both master and bond-slave should adopt. 

Does the master mistreat his bond-slave?  Probably, but the bond-slave is asked to bear this burden for a time and is reminded that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as your reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  Whoever does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism (Colossians 3:24-25).

(To be continued)

© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved

Friday, April 22, 2016

1 Corinthians (Lesson 21)

Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                     Published weekly on Friday
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4

1 Corinthians                                                                         (Lesson 21)

I want to thank you for being here week in and week out, and I thank you for your diligence in studying the Bible.


Introduction to Chapter 7

This chapter begins the second part of Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth in which he responds to six questions from them asking for his advice.  The letter in which these questions were posed has been lost to antiquity, so this is the equivalent of listening to one end of a telephone conversation. 

Paul had sternly, and sarcastically in certain places, reprimanded the Corinthians for certain sins already noted in the first six chapters before getting around to responding to these questions (or problems) within the church in their letter.

As I stated earlier, we only have Paul’s advice or his response to the questions he was asked by the Corinthians.  Without the “lost letter” no one can say for certain why these six questions were presented.    Since Scripture doesn’t tell us why these problems existed in the Corinthian church, we’ll just work with what we have been given.  I’m not one to speculate and an opinion, if it’s not based on fact, is about as useful as a screen door in a submarine, so we won’t be going there.   

Please open your Bible at 1 Corinthians, chapter 7.

Teaching on Marriage

Our Apostle Paul has discussed the issue of sexual immorality with the Corinthians (5:1-13; 6:9:20) and here we find him dealing with this topic again in verses 1-7.  It appears the Corinthians held multiple misconceptions about marriage such as:  the possibility of future marriage, the possibility of divorce and remarriage, and then separation and divorce, so Paul answers each one of their questions one at a time.

1 Corinthians 7

1: Now concerning the (what) things about which you wrote, (where is that letter?) it is good for a man not to touch a woman.

As for Paul’s opening comment:  it is good for a man not to touch a woman.  Let’s be clear, Paul isn’t saying a man should not shake a woman’s hand, give them a hug, or offer them a “holy kiss,” as a sign of fellowship or friendship (Romans 16:16).  The phrase, “To touch a woman is a euphemism for sexual intercourse.  Several of the English Bible translations have dropped the euphemism and translate “sexual relations” (NET, ESV).  The God’s Word Bible translates this phrase as “to marry;” a weak translation to say the least and a confusing one because this takes the Bible text to a place the Corinthians never intended it to go.   

The Greek word for touch, as Paul uses it here, is Haptomai (pronounced:  hap’-tom-ahee) a verb, from the Greek word Hapto.  The word has been rendered, “embrace,” “grasp hold of,” “lay hold of,” or “take hold of,” etc. by Bible commentators.  However, this Greek word is used about 36 times and is always translated, “touch,” as in the KJV Bible translation (see Strongs Greek #680).  There are no exceptions and in many of its occurrences it could not be translated in any other way according to the text.
When Paul said it is good for a man not to touch a woman he was speaking about abstaining from sexual immorality, as we’ll soon see in the next verse (5:1-5; 6:9-20; 7:9), and it is in that sense in which a man is not to touch a woman.  This phrase is in keeping with Paul’s command to the Corinthians to flee immorality; “to get out of there,” if necessary to keep from polluting their bodies, which did not belong to them (6:18-20).

Paul’s statement does not express nor does it imply a negative attitude toward marriage or the marriage state, as we’ll see later in 7:25-40.  Marriage is the God-ordained institution which provides a legitimate outlet for sexual passions.  He is condemning mankind’s abuse of God’s gift of sexuality and the marriage state, noting that mankind always takes God’s good gifts and practices them beyond God’s set boundaries. 

Let’s go to verses 2-4.

1 Corinthians 7

2: But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.

The word “But” at the beginning of verse 2 makes this is a contrasting sentence.  Paul could have said:  Contrastingly, since it’s not good for a man to touch a woman, each man is to have his own wife and each woman is to have her own husband.” 

The reason Paul gives for each man and each woman having their own spouse is because of “immoralities,”Porneia in the Greek language (pronounced:  por-ni’-ah), noun Feminine, meaning:  adultery, fornication, homosexuality, incest, lesbianism, intercourse with animals, and the list goes on for man’s depravity knows no bounds --Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 8:7-8; (see Strongs Greek #4202).  Paul has used the word Porneia before (5:1; 6:13, 18).  Our English word “pornography” is derived from this Greek word.

Paul acknowledges that Believers are going to experience sexual temptations, since they are living in Satan’s realm.  But God has provided them a legitimate way to satisfy their sexual urges and that is within the marital relationship.  Again, here’s more evidence that Paul is not anti-marriage and he is not anti-sex; he is pro-marriage and pro-sex because of the use of the verb to have, which is a euphemism for sexual relations.  Put another way, rather than abstaining from sexual relations with their marriage partner, Paul’s expectation is that the Corinthian husbands and wives continue having normal sexual relations. 

Moreover, the word have is a present tense command that implies “keep.”  Knowing this, Paul’s statement would read:  Let each man live sexually with his wife, and let each wife live sexually with her husband.”  God has provided a way out in regard to the sin of immorality, and that is through the marriage covenant (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Husbands and wives are to protect and satisfy their spouse. 

3: The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.

In verse 3 Paul said that both the husband and the wife have a mutual obligation to each other regarding their sexual desires.  The word duty in the Greek language is Opheile (pronounced:  of-i-lay), Noun Feminine, and it means – that which is owed, dues:  specifically of conjugal duty.  By selecting this word Paul makes it abundantly clear that sexual relations in marriage are not simply a privilege and a pleasure to be enjoyed, but a responsibility (see Exodus 21:10).  In an ideal marriage the husband and wife give themselves to each other physically as well as spiritually.  Celibacy or abstinence belongs to the unmarried life rather than the married life. 

What does this mean in plain English?  It means what every man hopes it means!  For true believers it’s one of the greatest verses in the Bible…  It is a “honey do” that men can delight in.  But before you guys get too carried away, there are a few things to take note of according to our Apostle Paul, and he begins with husbands because the man is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the Head of the church (Ephesians 5:22-23).  This doesn’t mean that the man is the lord of his wife and she exists to do his every bidding; she didn’t get married to become the man’s “step n’ fetch.” 

The role of the husband in the home according to God’s Word starts with leadership.  Scripture makes this clear in 1Timothy 3 in speaking of two church leadership positions traditionally filled by men; verse 5 specifically says:  but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God? 

I need to point out that the word leadership, as used here, means influence.  A biblically-based husband should influence his family.  Husbands are not to be despots in their home, they should not rule with a heavy-hand over their wives and children.  Instead, husbands should influence their wives and children in accordance with accurate Bible teaching.  They should be living examples, displaying attributes that bring honor and glory to God, and spiritual value to their spouse and family.  The fruit of a good biblically-based husband is a strong, confident, spiritually mature wife and family.  The husband can best achieve this by being a provider and a protector (1 Timothy 5:8; Colossians 3:19; 1 Peter 3:7). 

The next role the husband needs to fulfill is that of a companion.  What saith the Scriptures?  Husbands are to love their wives, just as Christ also loved the church (this is agape love; sacrificial love, asking nothing in return for service rendered) and gave Himself up for her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word… (Ephesians 5:25).  If you want to know the truth, this verse is saying that every believing husband should be willing to lay down his life for his wife; think on that. 

Paul goes on to say:  Husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated (or disrespected; defrauded) his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body (Ephesians 28-30; Genesis 2:24).

The relationship between a husband and a wife is meant to be one of love, respect, and support.  They are to help each other.  This idea is introduced at the beginning of the Bible.  Adam was alone and God decided he needed a suitable helper (see Genesis 2:20-24).   This introduces another meaning of the word companionship.  God created men and women differently, in case some of you men out there haven’t noticed…  We are not the same physically or emotionally.  Where one is weak, the other is strong for example.  Therefore, a husband and a wife can help each other by meeting the other person’s needs through physical or emotional intimacy (7:2-5). 

For you husbands, since we’re the spiritual leaders of the home, by choosing to use the word fulfill Paul is indicating that you must attend to your wife’s needs.  He’s indicating that you get to make the first move guys; this means you’re going to have to put the remote device, or the newspaper down, and seek out your wife’s needs.

When asked to describe the purpose of romance, the wife will use words such as endearment, friendship, intimacy, relationship, tenderness, etc.  Ask the husband the same question and he’ll answer, sex. 

What Paul means to say is the husband should find out what his wife needs, when she needs it, and how she needs it.  Of course, I understand men don’t have a clue how to do this.  This is where communication comes in.  Men are responsible for facilitating communication with their wives.  Ladies, this means that you have to explain to your husband how he can “minister” to your need(s).  Communication is one of the key components in any legitimate relationship, so if the two of you are not learning how to communicate with one another and putting this helpful marital tool into practice both of you will become disillusioned and frustrated. 

4: The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

If you read through this verse carefully, it becomes rather obvious that some of the Corinthians were advocating and practicing celibacy within the marriage relationship.  Again, we don’t know for certain why this was going on, but the most likely suggestion is that one or more of the divisive groups emphasized the philosophy that the highest plane of spirituality is to abstain from sex.  We note that some religious organizations continue to believe and follow this practice even today, albeit not very successfully.   

In verse 4 Paul said the husband and the wife must relinquish control of their bodies for the benefit of the marriage partner.  The word authority in the Greek language is Exousiazo (pronounced:  ex-oo-see-ad’-zo), a Verb, and it means – to have full and entire authority over the body.  This word has nothing to do with power.  When a man and a woman enter into the marriage covenant, an exclusive transfer of authority takes place; they assign to each other (and only to each other) the right and the responsibility for the pure and proper sexual use of each other’s bodies without any strings attached emotionally or physically.  

Let’s go to verses 5-6.

As I said, some of the Corinthians believed abstaining from sex made them more spiritual.  Paul referred to that practice as, “depriving (defrauding) one another,” or being celibate and he tells them to stop doing this unless it’s mutually agreed upon.   
1 Corinthians 7

5: Stop depriving (defrauding) one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that (who) Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

In verse 5 Paul gives them one exception to the rule regarding the duty of husbands and wives to each other, and this exception was carefully limited.  Breaking verse 5 down, so it can be more easily understood what you have is this:

1)      Abstinence must be by the mutual agreement of both marriage partners
2)      It must be for a limited period.
3)      It must be for prayer or other church-related purposes.
4)      It must be temporary.  Normal marital relations should be resumed and continued.  The reason Paul gives for this is so that Satan does not get a “foot-hold” in their lives; temptation does not enter in feeding their fleshly impulses, tempting them to engage in sexual immorality.

With such an apostolic command as this, the notion that sexual relations between believing partners are allowed only for procreation totally disappears.  On the other hand, the refusal of one partner to cohabitate is designated as fraud.  The husband or the wife is not to use sex as a lever or a means of punishing the other.  Satan is waiting nearby to tempt one or the other to take their sexual urges elsewhere.

Since husband and wife have mutual authority over each other’s bodies, abstinence must be voluntary on each side; otherwise injury is done to the person that does not consent, who is deprived (defrauded) against their will of that which is legally and rightfully theirs, unless there is an agreement, then there is no defrauding, because each has given up the right. 

Let’s go to verse 7

1 Corinthians 7

6: But this I say by way of concession, not of command.

But this I say refers back to what Paul said about marriage.  The word concession can mean either “to think the same thing as someone, to have a joint opinion, a common mind or understanding.”  It can also mean “awareness.”  I think Paul was saying that he was aware that being single and celibate was a good thing, yet also aware of the privileges and responsibilities of the married life.  His advice was not meant as a command for every Believer in Corinth to be married.  Marriage was ordained by God and is the norm for the man-woman relationship, and it is a great blessing to mankind.  But it is not required for Believers.

Paul’s point is this:  if you are single that is a wonderful thing, and if you are married or planning to get married, be true to one another; stay married, and retain normal marital relations, for that is God’s will. 

Let’s move on to verses 7-9.

1 Corinthians 7

7: Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am.  However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.

8: But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.

9: But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

One thing you have to understand about our Apostle Paul is he never speaks without a reason, so there had to be a reason for his comment in verse 7.  We know he was pro-marriage and pro-sex within the confines of the marital relationship, but what does he mean by saying “Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am?”  If you’re familiar with his writings, then you’re aware there’s a common thread that runs through all of them and that is he believes the Lord Jesus Christ’s return is imminent.  Paul also had personal knowledge concerning the persecution going on in the church and the negative impact this had on the Believer and their families.  Facing this persecution and the possibility of one’s death was better done alone.

Whether or not Paul was ever married is the subject of great debate among theologians.
What we do know is that Paul wasn’t married at this time based on his statements in 7:8-9 and later at 9:5.  But the Bible doesn’t say if Paul was married prior to this or if he was a widower. 

Some claim Paul was married because he was a member of the Sanhedrin.  But there is no biblical evidence to support this.  Paul does declare himself to be a Pharisee (Acts 23:6) but he never mentions being a member of the Sanhedrin, although it could be said  he was being groomed for the position (see Galatians 1:14). 

When Paul said, “Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am,” he isn’t saying it’s preferable that all men remain unmarried for this would be against God’s divine will, and would be contrary to his teaching on marriage elsewhere.  Paul is actually speaking of the gift of establishing and maintaining self-control over one’s sexual desires, which is clearly one of his own gifts from God because he speaks of possessing the ability to control his sexual desires, “even as I am” (Galatians 5:22-23).  Paul would be pleased if all men had self-control over their passions as he had; and could abstain from marriage when circumstances allowed this.  But if they could not exercise self-control, then they should marry.  For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. 

However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.  Although celibacy is good for Believers who are not married, it is a gift from God that He does not give to every Believer.  Just as it is wrong to misuse a gift that we have, it is also wrong to try to use a gift we do not have.  For a person who does not have the gift of celibacy, trying to practice it brings moral and spiritual frustration.   But for those who have this gift, singleness is truly God’s gift and like all His gifts, a blessing.

In Paul’s day an unmarried person was looked down on as a “second-class citizen.”  The Jews considered any man who wasn’t married by the age of 20 a sinner and unfit for heaven.  Paul was saying, “I don’t think so.”  If singleness is God’s gift to a person, it is also God’s will for that person to accept and exercise the gift:  Regardless, each one should lead the life that the Lord has assigned him and to which God has called him.  This is what I prescribe in all the churches (1 Corinthians 7:17 – Berean Study Bible).

Obviously, singleness has many practically advantages.  He or she is able to move around and set his or her own schedule.  It allows greater freedom in serving the Lord. Paul will point out later on that married people have many cares and concerns that the single people do not have (7:32-34).

Both singleness and marriage are to be considered gifts of God.  Although Paul knew singleness was good for him, he would not and did not impose it on anyone.  The important thing is what gift one has from God, either being gifted to singleness or marriage.  Many people find themselves on the "grass is greener" side of the fence and this is one of Satan’s traps, with singles wishing they were married, and married people wishing they were single.  Each state is a gift from God; give thanks. 

(To be continued)

© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved