1 Corinthians 7:11 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 7:11, NIV: But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

1 Corinthians 7:11, ESV: (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

1 Corinthians 7:11, KJV: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

1 Corinthians 7:11, NASB: (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband is not to divorce his wife.

1 Corinthians 7:11, NLT: But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.

1 Corinthians 7:11, CSB: But if she does leave, she must remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband--and a husband is not to divorce his wife.

What does 1 Corinthians 7:11 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul is completing a thought begun in the previous verse. He is answering a statement or question about sex and marriage for Christians (1 Corinthians 7:1). Some apparently believed it was more spiritual—morally superior—for Christians not to have sex nor be married. Paul has firmly rejected this false idea, showing that marriage is good, as is sex between married people (1 Corinthians 7:2–8).

Perhaps some in Corinth were thinking about divorcing their spouses in a misguided attempt to become more spiritual. In the previous verse, Paul declared it is absolutely against the Lord's will for a wife to sever her marriage from her husband. This is especially so in the context of this false idea of becoming more spiritual through celibacy.

Paul now adds that if a woman does this—or has done it—she should remain unmarried. The intent seems to be a hope that she might be reconciled to her husband after they have been separated. Otherwise, according to Jesus' teaching in Mark 10:12, she will be guilty of adultery when she marries another man. Jesus forbade divorce in all cases except for sexual immorality (Matthew 5:32).

Next Paul directs a similar command toward husbands, forbidding them from divorcing their wives, especially for the sake of achieving some higher spiritual connection with the Lord. Paul is clear throughout the passage that Christians who are married should stay married. He addresses the issue of Christians married to non-Christians in the following verses.

Neither this, nor verse 10, are commentary on all divorces, for all reasons. Nor are they statements about all remarriages, for all reasons. The underlying principles are important, but not meant to be taken carelessly.