What does 1 Corinthians 7:36 mean?
ESV: If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry — it is no sin.
NIV: If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married.
NASB: But if anyone thinks that he is acting dishonorably toward his virgin, if she is past her youth and it ought to be so, let him do what he wishes, he is not sinning; let them marry.
CSB: If any man thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, if she is getting beyond the usual age for marriage, and he feels he should marry—he can do what he wants. He is not sinning; they can get married.
NLT: But if a man thinks that he’s treating his fiancée improperly and will inevitably give in to his passion, let him marry her as he wishes. It is not a sin.
KJV: But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.
NKJV: But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry.
Verse Commentary:
Having addressed the advantage to those who remain unmarried, Paul now returns to the issue of whether a man who is already engaged to be married should go through with it. As he did earlier (1 Corinthians 1:25), Paul breaks from his typical pattern of including men and women equally in these discussions. Here, as then, he speaks about engagements and marriage arrangements. Perhaps the culture of his day simply did not allow for a woman who had been betrothed to break the engagement.

Paul has already said to both men and women that they are free to marry in any case. This is not an issue of sin or even being less holy. Paul sees it as an issue of opportunity for those who choose not to marry.

He now addresses engaged men and encourages them to go through with the marriage under the right conditions. If the engaged man thinks breaking off the engagement will be dishonorable toward the woman, he should marry her. If his sexual passion is strong to the point of being difficult to control, he should marry her.

This and the following verses create difficult choices for translators working from the original Greek. Some see this verse as being addressed to the father of the potential bride, with a focus on her desire to be married, whether she has the gift of celibacy, and her age. If that is the case, the Christian father with the authority to decide his daughter's marital fate should consider similar issues as a Christian man would weigh in deciding whether to marry.
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 7:25–40 explores Paul's response to a question about those who are engaged to be married. Should they go through with it, considering his teaching that singleness provides opportunity to serve Christ undivided? Both are permitted, Paul insists, and you do well in either case. Paul's unique, personal view is that unmarried Christians can serve without the troubles that come with even the best marriages; they can remain fully focused on living for Christ. That is neither a command nor a judgment binding on anyone.
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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