What does 1 Corinthians 7:16 mean?
ESV: For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
NIV: How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
NASB: For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
CSB: Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.
NLT: Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you?
KJV: For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?
NKJV: For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?
Verse Commentary:
Paul concludes his teaching about whether Christians who are married to non-Christians should get divorced. He has firmly said: no. Believers should not fight over it, if the unbelieving spouse wants to go. They should not, however, be the one to end the marriage simply because the other person is not yet saved.

Now Paul adds a hopeful note. Perhaps, by remaining in marriage to an unbeliever, a wife or husband will lead that spouse to faith in Christ. Some scholars link this idea to the last line of the previous verse: "God has called you to peace."

Perhaps an unbelieving husband or wife will see God at work in the heart, mind, and actions of their Christian spouse and be drawn to Christ, as well (1 Peter 3:1–2). Or perhaps God has also called the spouse to the same peace and they simply have not yet believed.

Paul does not promise that the unbelieving spouse will absolutely be saved, but he wants Christian spouses to remain available to be used by God to help bring about the salvation of their husbands or wives by means of faith in Christ.
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 9:17:20 PM
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