1 Corinthians 7:1 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 7:1, NIV: Now for the matters you wrote about: 'It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.'

1 Corinthians 7:1, ESV: Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.”

1 Corinthians 7:1, KJV: Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

1 Corinthians 7:1, NASB: Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.

1 Corinthians 7:1, NLT: Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to abstain from sexual relations.

1 Corinthians 7:1, CSB: Now in response to the matters you wrote about: "It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman."

What does 1 Corinthians 7:1 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul has just concluded confronting several difficult issues going on in the church at Corinth. He had received reports from visitors about those problems. Now he begins to address an issue raised in a letter from the church directly. That letter is lost to history, but we can infer what they wrote to Paul from his responses.

The first topic has to do with sex within marriage. At the end of the previous chapter, Paul powerfully urged his readers to run away from sexual immorality. This concept is represented by the Greek term porneia, referring to sex outside of heterosexual marriage.

This verse starts with the statement that it is better for a man not to touch a woman: a euphemism for sexual intercourse. The statement can be read in one of two ways. On one hand, Paul might be suggesting that celibacy—a commitment to abstain from all sex—is a good option for men. What's more likely, given the context of this chapter, is that this was one made by the Corinthians in their letter to Paul. This is why translations such as the ESV place those words in quotation marks, much as with the slogans Paul addressed in 1 Corinthians 6:12–13.

Perhaps some among the Corinthians were saying Christians should never have sex for any reason. This would mean that Christians should stop getting married and that even married couples should not have sex. Perhaps this was a reaction to the overt sexual immorality of the culture or the idea that Christians were spiritual beings who should not serve this physical appetite, at all. While this is a common theme of Gnosticism—an early heresy—it is not something taught in Scripture.

In the following verses, Paul will correct and clarify God's will for Christians when it comes to getting married and having sex within marriage.