What does 1 Corinthians 7:23 mean?
ESV: You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men.
NIV: You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings.
NASB: You were bought for a price; do not become slaves of people.
CSB: You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of people.
NLT: God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world.
KJV: Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
NKJV: You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.
Verse Commentary:
In words surprising to a non-spiritual mindset, Paul has written that even slaves who come to faith in Christ should not make the point of their lives to become freedmen. He has added, however, that if they get the opportunity to become free, they should take it (1 Corinthians 7:20–22).

Paul wants all Christians, slave and free, to place greater value on their position in God's eyes than in the eyes of the world. In God's eyes, all believing slaves are freedmen. All Christians are bondservants of Christ. God's perspective matters far more than our status during the short time we will live on this earth before eternity.

Now Paul follows his comment that Christians, though free in this life, are "slaves" to Christ because God purchased us, body and spirit, with the blood of Christ through His death for our sin on the cross. We were redeemed by God (Ephesians 1:7; Galatians 3:13), meaning that He took possession of us from our former master of sin and death.

Because God owns those who are in Christ, Paul now adds that we must not become slaves to men. It's possible to interpret this as a command to believers not to sell themselves into slavery for the purpose of paying off debt or making a living. Some take this as a condemnation of going into debt, even in a modern sense of loans or a mortgage (Romans 13:8). In context, though, it's far more likely Paul is repeating the idea that God is a believer's true and eternal master, not the human being who "owns" them for now in this short life.
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 5/28/2024 6:44:14 PM
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