What does 1 Corinthians 7:15 mean?
ESV: But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.
NIV: But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.
NASB: Yet if the unbelieving one is leaving, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us in peace.
CSB: But if the unbeliever leaves, let him leave. A brother or a sister is not bound in such cases. God has called you to live in peace.
NLT: (But if the husband or wife who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the believing husband or wife is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.)
KJV: But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.
NKJV: But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.
Verse Commentary:
Paul has taught the Corinthians that Christians must not divorce their unbelieving spouses. What if their Jewish or pagan spouses are the ones who want to divorce? What if the unbelieving partner insists on separation? What should a Christian do in that case?

Akin to his advice about civil lawsuits among fellow Christians (1 Corinthians 6:7), Paul advocates for submission. In modern terms, Paul says "Don't fight it. Let them go." Since the Christian husband or wife did not initiate the break-up, he or she will not remain "enslaved."

Some scholars take this to mean that the Christian spouse is simply released from any obligation to the marriage itself. Others understand Paul's reference to "enslavement" here to refer to all the normal entailments of divorce, which would include not being able to remarry. Rather than being trapped in such a state by the sinful actions of another, this circumstance would include the freedom to marry someone else without being guilty of committing adultery (Matthew 5:32).

The final line of this verse can be read in one of two ways. Ancient writings such as this letter were composed without punctuation, and without modern conventions like chapter and verse divisions. So it's possible the line "God has called you to peace" is meant to begin a new thought, continued in the following verse. In that sense, God has given believers peace with Him, in addition to the opportunity to live with peaceful minds and hearts. Perhaps the observation of that powerful and transformative peace will persuade an unbelieving spouse to consider faith in Christ, after all.

The other possibility is that Paul means God has called the two separating to peace in the sense that they should not fight the divorce or be overly anxious about letting the marriage go. They can have peace of mind and heart in moving on from their unbalanced marriage. The Greek term used by Paul here is hēmas, usually meaning "we" or "us." Some manuscripts use a plural equivalent of you. In either case, the reference is to more than one person.
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 5/24/2024 10:02:54 PM
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