What does 1 Corinthians 7:2 mean?
ESV: But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.
NIV: But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.
NASB: But because of sexual immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.
CSB: But because sexual immorality is so common, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman should have sexual relations with her own husband.
NLT: But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.
KJV: Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
NKJV: Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.
Verse Commentary:
Paul is just beginning to answer a question from a letter sent to him by the church at Corinth. Apparently, some among them suggested it was better for a man never to have sex with a woman, even within marriage. Scholars suggest that the idea being presented was that Christians should never have sex for any reason. This seems to be a comment made in a prior letter, which Paul quotes in the prior verse (1 Corinthians 7:1). Paul will now explain why this is wrong and clarify God's will for sex within marriage.

He writes that each husband and wife should "have" each other. This, again, is a polite reference to sex and counters the earlier claim. Paul directly contradicts the idea that Christians who are married should not have sex. Why? The temptation to participate in sexual immorality is too strong, and the consequences of doing so are too dangerous (1 Corinthians 6:12–20).

Some misread this verse to imply that people should get married specifically for the purposes of having sex. Meaning, that people ought to actively seek marriage in order to have an outlet for sexual urges. That's not, at all, what this statement means. The difference is in the word "have," understood as a euphemism for sex. The Greek term is echetō, very different from the term zeteo, which Paul uses later (1 Corinthians 7:27) in reference to "seeking" something.

In other words, Paul's point in this specific instance is those already married should be having sex with his or her spouse in order to avoid sexual sin. This comment is not about marriage in general. Paul gives a specific answer to a specific question about whether married Christian couples should be having sex. He addresses marriage more broadly in other letters (Ephesians 5:22–33). Later in this chapter, Paul will take up the question of marriage in light of sexual temptations.

The Bible is consistently clear that God designed sex as a good thing within marriage, even before sin entered the world (Genesis 2:24). Only sexual immorality—as a corruption of that good gift (1 Timothy 4:4)—is condemned in Scripture.
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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