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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

1 Corinthians 7



Verse 1

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote (περι δε ων εγραπσατεperi de hōn egrapsate). An ellipsis of περι τουτωνperi toutōn the antecedent of περι ωνperi hōn is easily supplied as in papyri. The church had written Paul a letter in which a number of specific problems about marriage were raised. He answers them seriatim. The questions must be clearly before one in order intelligently to interpret Paul‘s replies. The first is whether a single life is wrong. Paul pointedly says that it is not wrong, but good (καλονkalon). One will get a one-sided view of Paul‘s teaching on marriage unless he keeps a proper perspective. One of the marks of certain heretics will be forbidding to marry (1 Timothy 4:3). Paul uses marriage as a metaphor of our relation to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Romans 7:4; Ephesians 5:28-33). Paul is not here opposing marriage. He is only arguing that celibacy may be good in certain limitations. The genitive case with απτεσταιhaptesthai (touch) is the usual construction.

Verse 2

Because of fornications (δια τας πορνειαςdia tas porneias). This is not the only reason for marriage, but it is a true one. The main purpose of marriage is children. Mutual love is another. The family is the basis of all civilization. Paul does not give a low view of marriage, but is merely answering questions put to him about life in Corinth.

Verse 3

Render the due (την οπειλην αποδιδοτωtēn opheilēn apodidotō). Marriage is not simply not wrong, but for many a duty. Both husband and wife have a mutual obligation to the other. “This dictum defends marital intercourse against rigorists, as that of 1 Corinthians 7:1 commends celibacy against sensualists” (Findlay).

Verse 4

The wife (η γυνηhē gunē). The wife is mentioned first, but the equality of the sexes in marriage is clearly presented as the way to keep marriage undefiled (Hebrews 13:4). “In wedlock separate ownership of the person ceases” (Robertson and Plummer).

Verse 5

Except it be by consent for a season (ει μητι αν εκ συμπωνου προς καιρονei mēti ̣aň ek sumphōnou pros kairon). If ανan is genuine, it can either be regarded as like εανean though without a verb or as loosely added after ει μητιei mēti and construed with it.

That ye may give yourselves unto prayer (ινα σχολασητε τηι προσευχηιhina scholasēte tēi proseuchēi). First aorist active subjunctive of σχολαζωscholazō late verb from σχοληscholē leisure (our “school”), and so to have leisure (punctiliar act and not permanent) for prayer. Note private devotions here.

That Satan tempt you not (ινα μη πειραζηιhina mē peirazēi). Present subjunctive, that Satan may not keep on tempting you.

Because of your incontinency (δια την ακρασιαν υμωνdia tēn akrasian ̣humōň). A late word from Aristotle on for ακρατειαakrateia from ακρατηςakratēs (without self-control, αa privative and κρατεωkrateō to control, common old word). In N.T. only here and Matthew 23:25 which see.

Verse 6

By way of permission (κατα συνγνωμηνkata sungnōmēn). Old word for pardon, concession, indulgence. Secundum indulgentiam (Vulgate). Only here in N.T., though in the papyri for pardon. The word means “knowing together,” understanding, agreement, and so concession.

Not of commandment (ου κατ επιταγηνou kat' epitagēn). Late word (in papyri) from επιτασσωepitassō old word to enjoin. Paul has not commanded people to marry. He has left it an open question.

Verse 7

Yet I would (τελω δεthelō de). “But I wish.” Followed by accusative and infinitive (αντρωπους ειναιanthrōpous einai). This is Paul‘s personal preference under present conditions (1 Corinthians 7:26).

Even as I myself (ως και εμαυτονhōs kai emauton). This clearly means that Paul was not then married and it is confirmed by 1 Corinthians 9:5. Whether he had been married and was now a widower turns on the interpretation of Acts 26:10 “I cast my vote.” If this is taken literally (the obvious way to take it) as a member of the Sanhedrin, Paul was married at that time. There is no way to decide.

His own gift from God (ιδιον χαρισμα εκ τεουidion charisma ek theou). So each must decide for himself. See note on 1 Corinthians 1:7 for χαρισμαcharisma a late word from χαριζομαιcharizomai f0).

Verse 8

To the unmarried and to the widows (τοις αγαμοις και ταις χηραιςtois agamois kai tais chērais). It is possible that by “the unmarried” (masculine plural) the apostle means only men since widows are added and since virgins receive special treatment later (1 Corinthians 7:25) and in 1 Corinthians 7:32 ο αγαμοςho agamos is the unmarried man. It is hardly likely that Paul means only widowers and widows and means to call himself a widower by ως καγωhōs kagō (even as I). After discussing marital relations in 1 Corinthians 7:2-7 he returns to the original question in 1 Corinthians 7:1 and repeats his own personal preference as in 1 Corinthians 7:7. He does not say that it is better to be unmarried, but only that it is good (καλονkalon as in 1 Corinthians 7:1) for them to remain unmarried. ΑγαμοςAgamos is an old word and in N.T. occurs only in this passage. In 1 Corinthians 7:11, 1 Corinthians 7:34 it is used of women where the old Greeks would have used ανανδροςanandros without a husband.

Verse 9

But if they have not continency (ει δε ουκ εγκρατευονταιei de ouk egkrateuontai). Condition of the first class, assumed as true. Direct middle voice εγκρατευονταιegkrateuontai hold themselves in, control themselves.

Let them marry (γαμησατωσανgamēsatōsan). First aorist (ingressive) active imperative. Usual Koiné{[28928]}š form in τωσαν̇tōsan for third plural.

Better (κρειττονkreitton). Marriage is better than continued sexual passion. Paul has not said that celibacy is better than marriage though he has justified it and expressed his own personal preference for it. The metaphorical use of πυρουσταιpurousthai (present middle infinitive) for sexual passion is common enough as also for grief (2 Corinthians 11:29).

Verse 10

To the married (τοις γεγαμηκοσινtois gegamēkosin). Perfect active participle of γαμεωgameō old verb, to marry, and still married as the tense shows.

I give charge (παραγγελλωparaggellō). Not mere wish as in 1 Corinthians 7:7, 1 Corinthians 7:8.

Not I, but the Lord (ουκ εγω αλλα ο κυριοςouk egō alla ho kurios). Paul had no commands from Jesus to the unmarried (men or women), but Jesus had spoken to the married (husbands and wives) as in Matthew 5:31.; Matthew 19:3-12; Mark 10:9-12; Luke 16:18. The Master had spoken plain words about divorce. Paul reenforces his own inspired command by the command of Jesus. In Mark 10:9 we have from Christ: “What therefore God joined together let not man put asunder” (μη χοριζετωmē chorizetō).

That the wife depart not from her husband (γυναικα απο ανδρος μη χοριστηναιgunaika apo andros mē choristhēnai). First aorist passive infinitive (indirect command after παραγγελλωparaggellō) of χοριζωchorizō old verb from adverbial preposition χωριςchōris separately, apart from, from. Here used of divorce by the wife which, though unusual then, yet did happen as in the case of Salome (sister of Herod the Great) and of Herodias before she married Herod Antipas. Jesus also spoke of it (Mark 10:12). Now most of the divorces are obtained by women. This passive infinitive is almost reflexive in force according to a constant tendency in the Koiné{[28928]}š (Robertson, Grammar, p. 817).


Verse 11

But and if she depart (εαν δε και χωριστηιean de kai chōristhēi). Third class condition, undetermined. If, in spite of Christ‘s clear prohibition, she get separated (ingressive passive subjunctive), let her remain unmarried (μενετω αγαμοςmenetō agamos). Paul here makes no allowance for remarriage of the innocent party as Jesus does by implication.

Or else be reconciled to her husband (η τωι ανδρι καταλλαγητωē tōi andri katallagētō). Second aorist (ingressive) passive imperative of καταλλασσωkatallassō old compound verb to exchange coins as of equal value, to reconcile. One of Paul‘s great words for reconciliation with God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Romans 5:10). ΔιαλλασσωDiallassō (Matthew 5:24 which see) was more common in the older Greek, but καταλλασσωkatallassō in the later. The difference in idea is very slight, διαdiȧ accents notion of exchange, κατkaṫ the perfective idea (complete reconciliation). Dative of personal interest is the case of ανδριandri This sentence is a parenthesis between the two infinitives χωριστηναιchōristhēnai and απιεναιaphienai (both indirect commands after παραγγελλωparaggellō).

And that the husband leave not his wife (και ανδρα μη απιεναιkai andra mē aphienai). This is also part of the Lord‘s command (Mark 10:11). ΑπολυωApoluō occurs in Mark of the husband‘s act and απιεναιaphienai here, both meaning to send away. Bengel actually stresses the difference between χωριστηναιchōristhēnai of the woman as like separatur in Latin and calls the wife “pars ignobilior” and the husband “nobilior.” I doubt if Paul would stand for that extreme.

Verse 12

But to the rest say I, not the Lord (τοις δε λοιποις λεγω εγω ουχ ο Κυριοςtois de loipois legō egōclass="greek-hebrew">γυναικα απιστον ouch ho Kurios). Paul has no word about marriage from Jesus beyond the problem of divorce. This is no disclaimer of inspiration. He simply means that here he is not quoting a command of Jesus.

An unbelieving wife (απιστονgunaika apiston). This is a new problem, the result of work among the Gentiles, that did not arise in the time of Jesus. The form οι λοιποιapiston is the same as the masculine because a compound adjective. Paul has to deal with mixed marriages as missionaries do today in heathen lands. The rest (απιστοςhoi loipoi) for Gentiles (Ephesians 2:3) we have already had in 1 Thessalonians 4:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:6 which see. The Christian husband married his wife when he himself was an unbeliever. The word συνευδοκειapistos sometimes means unfaithful (Luke 12:46), but not here (cf. John 20:27).

She is content (μη απιετω αυτηνsuneudokei). Late compound verb to be pleased together with, agree together. In the papyri.

Let him not leave her (απιημιmē aphietō autēn). Perhaps here and in 1 Corinthians 7:11, 1 Corinthians 7:13 απολυωaphiēmi should be translated “put away” like απιημιapoluō in Mark 10:1. Some understand aphiēmi as separation from bed and board, not divorce.

Verse 13

Which hath an unbelieving husband (ητις εχει ανδρα απιστονhētis echei andra apiston). Relative clause here, while a conditional one in 1 Corinthians 7:12 (ει τιςei tis if any one). Paul is perfectly fair in stating both sides of the problem of mixed marriages.

Verse 14

Is sanctified in the wife (ηγιασται εν τηι γυναικιhēgiastai en tēi gunaiki). Perfect passive indicative of αγιαζωhagiazō to set apart, to hallow, to sanctify. Paul does not, of course, mean that the unbelieving husband is saved by the faith of the believing wife, though Hodge actually so interprets him. Clearly he only means that the marriage relation is sanctified so that there is no need of a divorce. If either husband or wife is a believer and the other agrees to remain, the marriage is holy and need not be set aside. This is so simple that one wonders at the ability of men to get confused over Paul‘s language.

Else were your children unclean (επει αρα τα τεκνα ακαταρταepei ara ta tekna akatharta). The common ellipse of the condition with επειepei “since, accordingly, if it is otherwise, your children are illegitimate (ακαταρταakatharta).” If the relations of the parents be holy, the child‘s birth must be holy also (not illegitimate). “He is not assuming that the child of a Christian parent would be baptized; that would spoil rather than help his argument, for it would imply that the child was not αγιοςhagios till it was baptized. The verse throws no light on the question of infant baptism” (Robertson and Plummer).

Verse 15

Is not under bondage (ου δεδουλωταιou dedoulōtai). Perfect passive indicative of δουλοωdouloō to enslave, has been enslaved, does not remain a slave. The believing husband or wife is not at liberty to separate, unless the disbeliever or pagan insists on it. Wilful desertion of the unbeliever sets the other free, a case not contemplated in Christ‘s words in Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9. Luther argued that the Christian partner, thus released, may marry again. But that is by no means clear, unless the unbeliever marries first.

But God hath called us in peace (εν δε ειρηνηι κεκληκεν ημαςen de eirēnēi keklēken hēmas or υμαςhumas). Perfect active indicative of καλεωkaleō permanent call in the sphere or atmosphere of peace. He does not desire enslavement in the marriage relation between the believer and the unbeliever.

Verse 16

For how knowest thou? (τι γαρ οιδασti gar oidas̱). But what does Paul mean? Is he giving an argument against the believer accepting divorce or in favour of doing so? The syntax allows either interpretation with ειei (if) after οιδαςoidas Is the idea in ειei (if) hope of saving the other or fear of not saving and hence peril in continuing the slavery of such a bondage? The latter idea probably suits the context best and is adopted by most commentators. And yet one hesitates to interpret Paul as advocating divorce unless strongly insisted on by the unbeliever. There is no problem at all unless the unbeliever makes it. If it is a hopeless case, acquiescence is the only wise solution. But surely the believer ought to be sure that there is no hope before he agrees to break the bond. Paul raises the problem of the wife first as in 1 Corinthians 7:10.

Verse 17

Only (ει μηei mē). This use of ει μηei mē as an elliptical condition is very common (1 Corinthians 7:5; Galatians 1:7, Galatians 1:19; Romans 14:14), “except that” like πληνplēn Paul gives a general principle as a limitation to what he has just said in 1 Corinthians 7:15. “It states the general principle which determines these questions about marriage, and this is afterwards illustrated by the cases of circumcision and slavery” (Robertson and Plummer). He has said that there is to be no compulsory slavery between the believer and the disbeliever (the Christian and the pagan). But on the other hand there is to be no reckless abuse of this liberty, no license.

As the Lord hath distributed to each man (εκαστωι ως μεμερικεν ο κυριοςhekastōi hōs memeriken ho kurios). Perfect active indicative of μεριζωmerizō old verb from μεροςmeros apart. Each has his lot from the Lord Jesus, has his call from God. He is not to seek a rupture of the marriage relation if the unbeliever does not ask for it.

And so ordain I (και ουτως διατασσομαιkai houtōs diatassomai). Military term, old word, to arrange in all the churches (distributed, διαdiȧ). Paul is conscious of authoritative leadership as the apostle of Christ to the Gentiles.

Verse 18

Let him not become uncircumcized (μη επισπαστωmē epispasthō). Present middle imperative of επισπαωepispaō old verb to draw on. In lxx (1 Maccabees 1:15) and Josephus (Ant. XII, V. I) in this sense. Here only in N.T. The point is that a Jew is to remain a Jew, a Gentile to be a Gentile. Both stand on an equality in the Christian churches. This freedom about circumcision illustrates the freedom about Gentile mixed marriages.

Verse 19

But the keeping of the commandments of God (αλλα τηρησις εντολων τεουalla tērēsis entolōn theou). Old word in sense of watching (Acts 4:3). Paul‘s view of the worthlessness of circumcision or of uncircumcision is stated again in Galatians 5:6; Galatians 6:15; Romans 2:25-29 (only the inward or spiritual Jew counts).

Verse 20

Wherein he was called (ηι εκλητηhēi eklēthē). When he was called by God and saved, whether a Jew or a Gentile, a slave or a freeman.

Verse 21

Wast thou called being a bondservant? (δουλος εκλητησdoulos eklēthēs̱). First aorist passive indicative. Wast thou, a slave, called?

Care not for it (μη σοι μελετωmē soi meletō). “Let it not be a care to thee.” Third person singular (impersonal) of μελειmelei old verb with dative σοιsoi It was usually a fixed condition and a slave could be a good servant of Christ (Colossians 3:22; Ephesians 6:5; Titus 2:9), even with heathen masters.

Use it rather (μαλλον χρησαιmallon chrēsai). Make use of what? There is no “it” in the Greek. Shall we supply ελευτεριαιeleutheriāi (instrumental case after χρησαιchrēsai or δουλειαιdouleiāi)? Most naturally ελευτεριαιeleutheriāi freedom, from ελευτεροςeleutheros just before. In that case ει καιei kai is not taken as although, but καιkai goes with δυνασαιdunasai “But if thou canst also become free, the rather use your opportunity for freedom.” On the whole this is probably Paul‘s idea and is in full harmony with the general principle above about mixed marriages with the heathen. ΧρησαιChrēsai is second person singular aorist middle imperative of χραομαιchraomai to use, old and common verb.

Verse 22

The Lord‘s freedman (απελευτερος Κυριουapeleutheros Kuriou). ΑπελευτεροςApeleutheros is an old word for a manumitted slave, ελευτεροςeleutheros from ερχομαιerchomai to go and so go free, απaṗ from bondage. Christ is now the owner of the Christian and Paul rejoices to call himself Christ‘s slave (δουλοςdoulos). But Christ set us free from sin by paying the ransom (λυτρονlutron) of his life on the Cross (Matthew 20:28; Romans 8:2; Galatians 5:1). Christ is thus the patronus of the libertus who owes everything to his patronus. He is no longer the slave of sin (Romans 6:6, Romans 6:18), but a slave to God (Romans 6:22).

Likewise the freeman when called is Christ‘s slave (ομοιως ο ελευτερος κλητεις δουλος εστιν Χριστουhomoiōs ho eleutheros klētheis doulos estin Christou). Those who were not slaves, but freemen, when converted, are as much slaves of Christ as those who were and still were slaves of men. All were slaves of sin and have been set free from sin by Christ who now owns them all.

Verse 23

Ye were bought with a price (τιμης ηγοραστητεtimēs ēgorasthēte). See note on 1 Corinthians 6:20 for this very phrase, here repeated. Both classes (slaves and freemen) were purchased by the blood of Christ.

Become not bondservants of men (μη γινεστε δουλοι αντρωπωνmē ginesthe douloi anthrōpōn). Present middle imperative of γινομαιginomai with negative μηmē Literally, stop becoming slaves of men. Paul here clearly defines his opposition to human slavery as an institution which comes out so powerfully in the Epistle to Philemon. Those already free from human slavery should not become enslaved.

Verse 24

With God (παρα τεωιpara theōi). There is comfort in that. Even a slave can have God at his side by remaining at God‘s side.

Verse 25

I have no commandment of the Lord (επιταγην Κυριου ουκ εχωepitagēn Kuriou ouk echō). A late word from επιτασσωepitassō old Greek verb to enjoin, to give orders to. Paul did have (1 Corinthians 7:10) a command from the Lord as we have in Matthew and Mark. It was quite possible for Paul to know this command of Jesus as he did other sayings of Jesus (Acts 20:35) even if he had as yet no access to a written gospel or had received no direct revelation on the subject from Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:23). Sayings of Jesus were passed on among the believers. But Paul had no specific word from Jesus on the subject of virgins. They call for special treatment, young unmarried women only Paul means (1 Corinthians 7:25, 1 Corinthians 7:28, 1 Corinthians 7:34, 1 Corinthians 7:36-38) and not as in Revelation 14:4 (metaphor). It is probable that in the letter (1 Corinthians 7:1) the Corinthians had asked about this problem.

But I give my judgment (γνωμην δε διδωμιgnōmēn de didōmi). About mixed marriages (1 Corinthians 7:12) Paul had the command of Jesus concerning divorce to guide him. Here he has nothing from Jesus at all. So he gives no “command,” but only “a judgment,” a deliberately formed decision from knowledge (2 Corinthians 8:10), not a mere passing fancy.

As one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful (ως ηλεημενος υπο κυριου πιστος ειναιhōs ēleēmenos hupo kuriou pistos einai). Perfect passive participle of ελεεωeleeō old verb to receive mercy (ελεοςeleos). ΠιστοςPistos is predicate nominative with infinitive ειναιeinai This language, so far from being a disclaimer of inspiration, is an express claim to help from the Lord in the forming of this duly considered judgment, which is in no sense a command, but an inspired opinion.

Verse 26

I think therefore (νομιζω ουνnomizō oun). Paul proceeds to express therefore the previously mentioned judgment (γνωμηνgnōmēn) and calls it his opinion, not because he is uncertain, but simply because it is not a command, but advice.

By reason of the present distress (δια την ενεστωσαν αναγκηνdia tēn enestōsan anagkēn). The participle ενεστωσανenestōsan is second perfect active of ενιστημιenistēmi and means “standing on” or “present” (cf. Galatians 1:4; Hebrews 9:9). It occurs in 2 Thessalonians 2:2 of the advent of Christ as not “present.” Whether Paul has in mind the hoped for second coming of Jesus in this verse we do not certainly know, though probably so. Jesus had spoken of those calamities which would precede his coming (Matthew 24:8.) though Paul had denied saying that the advent was right at hand (2 Thessalonians 2:2). ΑναγκηAnagkē is a strong word (old and common), either for external circumstances or inward sense of duty. It occurs elsewhere for the woes preceding the second coming (Luke 21:23) and also for Paul‘s persecutions (1 Thessalonians 3:7; 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 12:10). Perhaps there is a mingling of both ideas here.

Namely. This word is not in the Greek. The infinitive of indirect discourse (υπαρχεινhuparchein) after νομιζωnomizō is repeated with recitative οτιhoti “That the being so is good for a man” (οτι καλον αντρωπωι το ουτως ειναιhoti kalon anthrōpōi to houtōs einai). The use of the article τοto with ειναιeinai compels this translation. Probably Paul means for one (αντρωπωιanthrōpōi generic term for man or woman) to remain as he is whether married or unmarried. The copula εστινestin is not expressed. He uses καλονkalon (good) as in 1 Corinthians 7:1.

Verse 27

Art thou bound to a wife? (δεδεσαι γυναικιdedesai gunaiki̱). Perfect passive indicative of δεωdeō to bind, with dative case γυναικιgunaiki Marriage bond as in Romans 7:2.

Seek not to be loosed (μη ζητει λυσινmē zētei lusin). Present active imperative with negative μηmē “Do not be seeking release” (λυσινlusin) from the marriage bond, old word, here only in N.T.

Seek not a wife (μη ζητει γυναικαmē zētei gunaika). Same construction, Do not be seeking a wife. Bachelors as well as widowers are included in λελυσαιlelusai (loosed, perfect passive indicative of λυωluō). This advice of Paul he only urges “because of the present necessity” (1 Corinthians 7:26). Whether he held on to this opinion later one does not know. Certainly he gives the noblest view of marriage in Ephesians 5:22-33. Paul does not present it as his opinion for all men at all times. Men feel it their duty to seek a wife.

Verse 28

But and if thou marry (εαν δε και γαμησηιςean de kai gamēsēis). Condition of the third class, undetermined with prospect of being determined, with the ingressive first aorist (late form) active subjunctive with εανean “But if thou also commit matrimony or get married,” in spite of Paul‘s advice to the contrary.

Thou hast not sinned (ουχ ημαρτεςouch hēmartes). Second aorist active indicative of αμαρτανωhamartanō to sin, to miss a mark. Here either Paul uses the timeless (gnomic) aorist indicative or by a swift transition he changes the standpoint (proleptic) in the conclusion from the future (in the condition) to the past. Such mixed conditions are common (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 1020, 1023). Precisely the same construction occurs with the case of the virgin (παρτενοςparthenos) except that the old form of the first aorist subjunctive (γημηιgēmēi) occurs in place of the late γαμησηιgamēsēi above. The MSS. interchange both examples. There is no special point in the difference in the forms.

Shall have tribulation in the flesh (τλιπσιν τηι σαρκι εχουσινthlipsin tēi sarki hexousin). Emphatic position of τλιπσινthlipsin (pressure). See note on 2 Corinthians 12:7 σκολοπς τηι σαρκιskolops tēi sarki (thorn in the flesh).

And I would spare you (εγω δε υμων πειδομαιegō de humōn pheidomai). Possibly conative present middle indicative, I am trying to spare you like αγειagei in Romans 2:4 and δικαιουστεdikaiousthe in Galatians 5:4.

Verse 29

But this I say (τουτο δε πημιtouto de phēmi Note πημιphēmi here rather than λεγωlegō (1 Corinthians 7:8, 1 Corinthians 7:12). A new turn is here given to the argument about the present necessity.

The time is shortened (ο καιρος συνεσταλμενος εστινho kairos sunestalmenos estin). Perfect periphrastic passive indicative of συστελλωsustellō old verb to place together, to draw together. Only twice in the N.T., here and Acts 5:6 which see. Found in the papyri for curtailing expenses. Calvin takes it for the shortness of human life, but apparently Paul pictures the foreshortening of time (opportunity) because of the possible nearness of and hope for the second coming. But in Philippians Paul faces death as his fate (Philemon 1:21-26), though still looking for the coming of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:20).

That henceforth (το λοιπον ιναto loipon hina). Proleptic position of το λοιπονto loipon before ιναhina and in the accusative of general reference and ιναhina has the notion of result rather than purpose (Robertson, Grammar, p. 997).

As though they had none (ως μη εχοντεςhōs mē echontes). This use of ωςhōs with the participle for an assumed condition is regular and μηmē in the Koiné{[28928]}š is the normal negative of the participle. So the idiom runs on through 1 Corinthians 7:31.

Verse 30

As though they possessed not (ως μη κατεχοντεςhōs mē katechontes). See this use of κατεχωkatechō old verb to hold down (Luke 14:9), to keep fast, to possess, in 2 Corinthians 6:10. Paul means that all earthly relations are to hang loosely about us in view of the second coming.

Verse 31

Those that use the world (οι χρωμενοι τον κοσμονhoi chrōmenoi ton kosmon). Old verb χραομαιchraomai usually with the instrumental case, but the accusative occurs in some Cretan inscriptions and in late writers according to a tendency of verbs to resume the use of the original accusative (Robertson, Grammar, p. 468).

As not abusing it (ως μη καταχρημενοιhōs mē katachrēmenoi). Perfective use of καταkata in composition, old verb, but here only in N.T., to use up, use to the full. Papyri give examples of this sense. This is more likely the idea than “abusing” it.

For the fashion of this world passeth away (παραγει γαρ το σχημα του κοσμου τουτουparagei gar to schēma tou kosmou toutou). Cf. 1 John 2:17. ΣχημαSchēma is the habitus, the outward appearance, old word, in N.T. only here and Philemon 2:7. ΠαραγειParagei (old word) means “passes along” like a moving panorama (movie show!). Used of Jesus passing by in Jericho (Matthew 20:30).

Verse 32

Free from cares (αμεριμνουςamerimnous). Old compound adjective (αa privative and μεριμναmerimna anxiety). In N.T. only here and Matthew 28:14 which see.

The things of the Lord (τα του Κυριουta tou Kuriou). The ideal state (so as to the widow and the virgin in 1 Corinthians 7:33), but even the unmarried do let the cares of the world choke the word (Mark 4:19).

How he may please the Lord (πως αρεσηι τωι Κυριωιpōs aresēi tōi Kuriōi). Deliberative subjunctive with πωςpōs retained in an indirect question. Dative case of ΚυριωιKuriōi Same construction in 1 Corinthians 7:33 with πως αρεσηι τηι γυναικιpōs aresēi tēi gunaiki (his wife) and in 1 Corinthians 7:34 πως αρεσηι τωι ανδριpōs aresēi tōi andri (her husband).

Verse 34

And there is a difference also between the wife and the virgin (και μεμερισται και η γυνη και η παρτενοςkai memeristai kai hē gunē kai hē parthenos). But the text here is very uncertain, almost hopelessly so. Westcott and Hort put και μεμερισταιkai memeristai in 1 Corinthians 7:33 and begin a new sentence with και η γυνηkai hē gunē and add η αγαμοςhē agamos after η γυνηhē gunē meaning “the widow and the virgin each is anxious for the things of the Lord” like the unmarried man (ο αγαμοςho agamos bachelor or widow) in 1 Corinthians 7:32. Possibly so, but the MSS. vary greatly at every point. At any rate Paul‘s point is that the married woman is more disposed to care for the things of the world. But, alas, how many unmarried women (virgins and widows) are after the things of the world today and lead a fast and giddy life.

Verse 35

For your own profit (προς το υμων αυτων συμπορονpros to humōn autōn sumphoron). Old adjective, advantageous, with neuter article here as substantive, from verb συμπερωsumpherō In N.T. here only and 1 Corinthians 10:33. Note reflexive plural form υμων αυτωνhumōn autōn

Not that I may cast a snare upon you (ουχ ινα βροχον υμιν επιβαλωouch hina brochon humin epibalō). ροχονBrochon is a noose or slip-knot used for lassoing animals, old word, only here in N.T. Papyri have an example “hanged by a noose.” ΕπιβαλωEpibalō is second aorist active subjunctive of επιβαλλωepiballō old verb to cast upon. Paul does not wish to capture the Corinthians by lasso and compel them to do what they do not wish about getting married.

For that which is seemly (προς το ευσχημονpros to euschēmon). Old adjective (ευeu well, σχημωνschēmōn shapely, comely, from σχημαschēma figure). For the purpose of decorum.

Attend upon the Lord (ευπαρεδρονeuparedron). Adjective construed with προς τοpros to before, late word (Hesychius) from ευeu well, and παρεδροςparedros sitting beside, “for the good position beside the Lord” (associative instrumental case of ΚυριωιKuriōi). Cf. Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:39).

Without distraction (απερισπαστωςaperispastōs). Late adverb (Polybius, Plutarch, lxx) from the adjective απερισπαστοςaperispastos (common in the papyri) from αa privative and περισπαωperispaō to draw around (Luke 10:40).

Verse 36

That he behaveth himself unseemly (ασχημονεινaschēmonein). Old verb, here only in N.T., from ασχημωνaschēmōn (1 Corinthians 12:23), from αa privative and σχημαschēma Occurs in the papyri. Infinitive in indirect discourse after νομιζειnomizei (thinks) with ειei (condition of first class, assumed as true).

If she be past the flower of her age (εαν ηι υπερακμοςean ēi huperakmos). Old word, only here in N.T., from υπερhuper (over) and ακμηakmē (prime or bloom of life), past the bloom of youth, superadultus (Vulgate). Compound adjective with feminine form like masculine. Apparently the Corinthians had asked Paul about the duty of a father towards his daughter old enough to marry.

If need so requireth (και ουτως οπειλει γινεσταιkai houtōs opheilei ginesthai). “And it ought to happen.” Paul has discussed the problem of marriage for virgins on the grounds of expediency. Now he faces the question where the daughter wishes to marry and there is no serious objection to it. The father is advised to consent. Roman and Greek fathers had the control of the marriage of their daughters. “My marriage is my father‘s care; it is not for me to decide about that” (Hermione in Euripides‘ Andromache, 987).

Let them marry (γαμειτωσανgameitōsan). Present active plural imperative (long form).

Verse 37

To keep his own virgin daughter (τηρειν την εαυτου παρτενονtērein tēn heautou parthenon). This means the case when the virgin daughter does not wish to marry and the father agrees with her, he shall do well (καλως ποιησειkalōs poiēsei).

Verse 38

Doeth well (καλως ποιειkalōs poiei). So Paul commends the father who gives his daughter in marriage (γαμιζειgamizei). This verb γαμιζωgamizō has not been found outside the N.T. See Matthew 22:30.

Shall do better (κρεισσον ποιησειkreisson poiēsei). In view of the present distress (1 Corinthians 7:26) and the shortened time (1 Corinthians 7:29). And yet, when all is said, Paul leaves the whole problem of getting married an open question to be settled by each individual case.

Verse 39

For so long time as her husband liveth (επ οσον χρονον ζηι ο ανηρ αυτηςEphesians' hoson chronon zēi ho anēr autēs). While he lives (τωι ζωντι ανδριtōi zōnti andri) Paul says in Romans 7:2. This is the ideal and is pertinent today when husbands meet their ex-wives and wives meet their ex-husbands. There is a screw loose somewhere. Paul here treats as a sort of addendum the remarriage of widows. He will discuss it again in 1 Timothy 5:9-13 and then he will advise younger widows to marry. Paul leaves her free here also to be married again, “only in the Lord” (μονον εν Κυριωιmonon en Kuriōi). Every marriage ought to be “in the Lord.”

To be married (γαμητηναιgamēthēnai) is first aorist passive infinitive followed by the dative relative ωιhōi with unexpressed antecedent τουτωιtoutōi f0).

Verse 40

Happier (μακαριωτεραmakariōterā). Comparative of μακαριοςmakarios used in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3.).

After my judgment (κατα την εμην γνωμηνkata tēn emēn gnōmēn). The same word used in 1 Corinthians 7:25, not a command.

I think (δοκωdokō). From δοκεωdokeō not νομιζωnomizō of 1 Corinthians 7:26. But he insists that he has “the spirit of God” (πνευμα τεουpneuma theou) in the expression of his inspired judgment on this difficult, complicated, tangled problem of marriage. But he has discharged his duty and leaves each one to decide for himself.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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