What does 1 Corinthians 7:11 mean?
ESV: (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.
NIV: But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.
NASB: (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband is not to divorce his wife.
CSB: But if she does leave, she must remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband--and a husband is not to divorce his wife.
NLT: But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.
KJV: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.
NKJV: But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.
Verse Commentary:
Paul is completing a thought begun in the previous verse. He is answering a statement or question about sex and marriage for Christians (1 Corinthians 7:1). Some apparently believed it was more spiritual—morally superior—for Christians not to have sex nor be married. Paul has firmly rejected this false idea, showing that marriage is good, as is sex between married people (1 Corinthians 7:2–8).

Perhaps some in Corinth were thinking about divorcing their spouses in a misguided attempt to become more spiritual. In the previous verse, Paul declared it is absolutely against the Lord's will for a wife to sever her marriage from her husband. This is especially so in the context of this false idea of becoming more spiritual through celibacy.

Paul now adds that if a woman does this—or has done it—she should remain unmarried. The intent seems to be a hope that she might be reconciled to her husband after they have been separated. Otherwise, according to Jesus' teaching in Mark 10:12, she will be guilty of adultery when she marries another man. Jesus forbade divorce in all cases except for sexual immorality (Matthew 5:32).

Next Paul directs a similar command toward husbands, forbidding them from divorcing their wives, especially for the sake of achieving some higher spiritual connection with the Lord. Paul is clear throughout the passage that Christians who are married should stay married. He addresses the issue of Christians married to non-Christians in the following verses.

Neither this nor verse 10 is commentary on all divorces, for all reasons. Nor are they statements about all remarriages, for all reasons. The underlying principles are important, but not meant to be taken carelessly.
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.
Accessed 5/26/2024 7:12:08 AM
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