1 Corinthians 7:15 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 7:15, NIV: But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.

1 Corinthians 7:15, ESV: But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.

1 Corinthians 7:15, KJV: But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

1 Corinthians 7:15, NASB: Yet if the unbelieving one is leaving, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us in peace.

1 Corinthians 7:15, NLT: (But if the husband or wife who isn't a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the Christian husband or wife is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.)

1 Corinthians 7:15, CSB: But if the unbeliever leaves, let him leave. A brother or a sister is not bound in such cases. God has called you to live in peace.

What does 1 Corinthians 7:15 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul has taught the Corinthians that Christians must not divorce their unbelieving spouses. What if their Jewish or pagan spouses are the ones who want to divorce? What if the unbelieving partner insists on separation? What should a Christian do in that case?

Akin to his advice about civil lawsuits among fellow Christians (1 Corinthians 6:7), Paul advocates for submission. In modern terms, Paul says "Don't fight it. Let them go." Since the Christian husband or wife did not initiate the break-up, he or she will not remain "enslaved."

Some scholars take this to mean that the Christian spouse is simply released from any obligation to the marriage itself. Others understand Paul's reference to "enslavement" here to refer to all the normal entailments of divorce, which would include not being able to remarry. Rather than being trapped in such a state by the sinful actions of another, this circumstance would include the freedom to marry someone else without being guilty of committing adultery (Matthew 5:32).

The final line of this verse can be read in one of two ways. Ancient writings such as this letter were composed without punctuation, and without modern conventions like chapter and verse divisions. So it's possible the line "God has called you to peace" is meant to begin a new thought, continued in the following verse. In that sense, God has given believers peace with Him, in addition to the opportunity to live with peaceful minds and hearts. Perhaps the observation of that powerful and transformative peace will persuade an unbelieving spouse to consider faith in Christ, after all.

The other possibility is that Paul means God has called the two separating to peace in the sense that they should not fight the divorce or be overly anxious about letting the marriage go. They can have peace of mind and heart in moving on from their unbalanced marriage. The Greek term used by Paul here is hēmas, usually meaning "we" or "us." Some manuscripts use a plural equivalent of you. In either case, the reference is to more than one person.