1 Corinthians 7:14 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 7:14, NIV: For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

1 Corinthians 7:14, ESV: For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

1 Corinthians 7:14, KJV: For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

1 Corinthians 7:14, NASB: 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.

1 Corinthians 7:14, NLT: For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy.

1 Corinthians 7:14, CSB: For the unbelieving husband is made holy by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy by the husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is they are holy.

What does 1 Corinthians 7:14 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul has instructed Christians who are married to unbelieving spouses not to divorce, if the unsaved spouse is willing to stay in the marriage.

By God's design, marriage is the most intimate of all human relationships (Genesis 2:24). Why, then, would a Christian man or woman imagine God desiring them to separate from their spouse? Perhaps the Christians in Corinth were concerned that being in union with an unbeliever would make them unclean in God's eyes. Would their unsaved spouse cause God to see them as being guilty of the sin and unbelief of their spouse?

Paul's answer is that the opposite is true. A Christian's unbelieving spouse and children are, instead, "made holy." This is true for both husbands and wives, but has to be carefully understood.

Paul is not saying a person's unbelieving spouse and children are eternally saved simply by being married to or parented by a Christian. Saving faith cannot be borrowed, inherited, or willed to someone else. Scripture's clear teaching is that individuals must come to faith in Christ on their own in order to receive the grace of God's forgiveness for sin (Matthew 10:34–36; 1 Corinthians 3:13; Galatians 6:3–5). Further, Paul writes in verse 16 that an unbeliever might be saved through the witness of a Christian spouse. That, in and of itself, proves that simply being married to a believer does not automatically bring eternal salvation to a non-Christian.

What Paul does seem to be saying is that God regards the unbelieving spouse and children of a Christian person as a holy spouse and children. This is precisely because the husband and wife are united as one, and one of them is united with Christ. In this life, on this side of eternity, they are included with the people of God who have been set-apart for His purposes.

The Christian is not stained by his or her non-Christian spouse; the non-Christian spouse, instead, becomes blessed by God so long as they remain married.