What does 1 Corinthians 7:17 mean?
ESV: Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.
NIV: Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.
NASB: Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this way let him walk. And so I direct in all the churches.
CSB: Let each one live his life in the situation the Lord assigned when God called him. This is what I command in all the churches.
NLT: Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches.
KJV: But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.
NKJV: But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches.
Verse Commentary:
Previous verses contained Paul's instruction that Christians who are married should stay married and that single people should not necessarily seek to be married. In other words, people ought not seek to change their marital status as if one option or the other was mandatory. He was not teaching that people had to, as a matter of Christian morality, maintain their current relationship statuses. In the upcoming verses, Paul expands on that thought.

He now writes that this general principle applies to many other areas of life. Becoming a Christian does not mean, automatically, that God desires a person to completely change all their relationships, occupations, or locations. Rather, speaking in general terms, Christians should stay as they were when the God called them to faith in Christ. The first opportunities for discipleship, service, and obedience are right there.

He says in this verse that God is the one who has assigned these particular places in life to His people when they were called to faith. God intends to make use of each of us. For the most part, that means serving and obeying in the exact positions and relationships we were in when He called us. Some, of course, are called to go or move, either physically or socially. But that's not the case for everyone.

Paul intentionally adds that this isn't just a rule for the church in Corinth. It is the same rule he teaches in every church. His examples of this teaching will include circumcision and slavery.
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 7:17–24 expands on Paul's rule of thumb: that Christians should remain in whatever situation they were in when they came to faith in Christ. Later text clarifies that Paul is not denouncing marriage or forbidding it in any sense. Married or not, circumcised or not, slave or free, Christians aren't obligated to radically upend every aspect of their lives and relationships. Slaves, though, are encouraged to gain their freedom if available. A believing slave is, in fact, free in Christ, while a Christian who is free in this life is, in truth, a slave to Christ. We all belong to God. Our eternal position in Christ matters far more than our temporary position in this life.
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 6/13/2024 1:46:15 PM
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