What does 1 Corinthians 7:1 mean?
ESV: Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: "It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman."
NIV: Now for the matters you wrote about: "It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman."
NASB: Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.
CSB: Now in response to the matters you wrote about: "It is good for a man not to use a woman for sex."
NLT: Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to abstain from sexual relations.
KJV: Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
NKJV: Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
Verse Commentary:
Paul has just concluded confronting several difficult issues going on in the church at Corinth. He had received reports from visitors about those problems. Now he begins to address an issue raised in a letter from the church directly. That letter is lost to history, but we can infer what they wrote to Paul from his responses.

The first topic has to do with sex within marriage. At the end of the previous chapter, Paul powerfully urged his readers to run away from sexual immorality. This concept is represented by the Greek term porneia, referring to sex outside of heterosexual marriage.

This verse starts with the statement that it is better for a man not to touch a woman: a euphemism for sexual intercourse. The statement can be read in one of two ways. On one hand, Paul might be suggesting that celibacy—a commitment to abstain from all sex—is a good option for men. What's more likely, given the context of this chapter, is that this was one made by the Corinthians in their letter to Paul. This is why translations such as the ESV place those words in quotation marks, much as with the slogans Paul addressed in 1 Corinthians 6:12–13.

Perhaps some among the Corinthians were saying Christians should never have sex for any reason. This would mean that Christians should stop getting married and that even married couples should not have sex. Perhaps this was a reaction to the overt sexual immorality of the culture or the idea that Christians were spiritual beings who should not serve this physical appetite, at all. While this is a common theme of Gnosticism—an early heresy—it is not something taught in Scripture.

In the following verses, Paul will correct and clarify God's will for Christians when it comes to getting married and having sex within marriage.
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 7:1–16 includes Paul's teaching about sex and marriage for Christians. Some in Corinth apparently thought even married believers should not have sex. Paul rejects that idea, insisting that married Christians belong to each other and should not deprive each other in this way because of the temptation to sexual sin. Also, married believers should not divorce in order to somehow be closer to God. The Lord intends marriage to be for life. Those married to unbelievers may, by staying in the marriage, help lead the other person to Christ.
Chapter Summary:
Paul rejects an idea concerning the Corinthian believers: that married Christians should not have sex. Perhaps some even thought marriages should be dissolved and avoided. On the contrary, Scripture says married Christians should have regular sex in order to avoid temptation. Those who are married ought to remain married. Unmarried believers with the gift of celibacy, however, should consider remaining single in order to avoid the troubles of marriage. That is Paul's personal preference, though that gift is not given to all others. Single believers can devote themselves to serving Christ without distraction. The time is short. All believers should live and serve Christ now as if this world is passing away.
Chapter Context:
First Corinthians 7 follows Paul's teaching in the previous chapter, which focused mostly on avoiding sexual immorality. Here he commands married husbands and wives not to deprive each other of sex, or get divorced, in a misguided attempt to be more spiritual. Unmarried people who can live contentedly without sex, however, should consider remaining single in order to serve Christ undivided. Getting married is good, but the time is short. The form of this world is passing away. Unmarried people should think about the opportunities to avoid trouble and serve Christ that come with staying single.
Book Summary:
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
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