1 Corinthians 7:39 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 7:39, NIV: "A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord."

1 Corinthians 7:39, ESV: "A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord."

1 Corinthians 7:39, KJV: "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord."

1 Corinthians 7:39, NASB: "A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord."

1 Corinthians 7:39, NLT: "A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but only if he loves the Lord."

1 Corinthians 7:39, CSB: "A wife is bound as long as her husband is living. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to anyone she wants--only in the Lord."

What does 1 Corinthians 7:39 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul wraps up this long section about whether unmarried people should get married by addressing one more group: widows. He emphasizes once more that those who are already married should stay married. A wife is bound to her husband so long as he or she lives. In almost all cases, only death should end a Christian marriage.

However, if the woman's husband dies, the widow is free to marry whomever she chooses. Paul offers one stipulation by saying "only in the Lord." In other words, a Christian widow should not marry an unbeliever (2 Corinthians 6:14).

In the culture of Paul's day, the widow was in a very different position from young women considering her first marriage. Widows were no longer necessarily under the authority of their fathers and were free to choose their own husband, given the opportunity. At the same time, such widows were especially vulnerable to being exploited or abandoned. Young women generally relied on their fathers to find them a desirable husband. That's why Paul's instructions to widows differ from his earlier instructions to those who are "betrothed."