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1 Corinthians 7:29

ESV This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none,
NIV What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not;
NASB But this I say, brothers, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none;
CSB This is what I mean, brothers and sisters: The time is limited, so from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none,
NLT But let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short. So from now on, those with wives should not focus only on their marriage.
KJV But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;

What does 1 Corinthians 7:29 mean?

Paul indicates that he is getting to a main point, saying "this is what I mean." Time is short in the sense that the Corinthians are living in the last arc of human history: between the death and resurrection of Jesus and the events that will trigger Christ's return. Though two thousand years have passed since Paul wrote these words, Christians are still living during that season, watching and waiting with eager expectation (Romans 8:23).

The time is short in another sense: our individual lives on this earth are short and uncertain. We come and go very quickly from the earth (James 4:14) in comparison to the long history of man and our eternal future after this life. Paul urged believers to accept the permanence of their place in eternity with Christ and the temporary nature of everything on this side of that moment. Christ's return to earth might yet be some years away, but any of us might be faced with eternity at any moment.

That's what Paul means when he says those who have wives should live as though they had none. He clearly doesn't mean this in an overly literal sense, given everything he has written so far. Spouses should not ignore each other or separate because the time is short. Paul has already taught clearly that husbands and wives should continue to be married and even to be sexually active (1 Corinthians 7:2–5). In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Christian men are to focus on their wives and marriages.

Having said that, all marriages are temporary. They end in death and do not continue in the next life (Matthew 22:30). No Christian should place their temporary commitment to their spouse above their eternal service to Christ.
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