1 Corinthians 7:20 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 7:20, NIV: Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

1 Corinthians 7:20, ESV: Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called.

1 Corinthians 7:20, KJV: Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

1 Corinthians 7:20, NASB: Each person is to remain in that state in which he was called.

1 Corinthians 7:20, NLT: Yes, each of you should remain as you were when God called you.

1 Corinthians 7:20, CSB: Let each of you remain in the situation in which he was called.

What does 1 Corinthians 7:20 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul restates what he wrote in verse 17: "Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him." As the following verse shows, this does not mean Christians should refuse to allow any changes to their life or circumstances. Instead, he is warning them not to worry about changing their status, or to change it for the wrong reasons.

Why might a new Christian seek to make an immediate, drastic change to their circumstances? Why rush headlong into celibacy, divorce, to leave behind a job, be circumcised, or break their commitment as a bondservant?

One wrongheaded reason might be an attempt to make oneself more acceptable to the Lord. As Paul wrote in the first chapter, many who came to Christ in Corinth were not considered respectable by the world. Few were conventionally wise or wealthy or of noble birth (1 Corinthians 1:26–27). Perhaps, once saved, they felt the need to become respectable by some measurable standard in order to be more acceptable to Christ.

Of course, God doesn't accept us because of our worthiness in comparison to other people. He accepts us because of His love and by His grace.

Another reason for wanting to change circumstances after coming to faith in Christ may have been the desire to be considered more spiritual or worthy by other Christians. Paul has already addressed the proud and judgmental attitudes of the Corinthians. Perhaps they were competing to look more spiritual or worthy to each other. Again, Paul makes clear this is a worthless goal.

Paul wants the Corinthians to worry less about their standing in this life and to serve Christ in and through whatever status He has called them.