What does 1 Corinthians 7:6 mean?
ESV: Now as a concession, not a command, I say this.
NIV: I say this as a concession, not as a command.
NASB: But this I say by way of concession, not of command.
CSB: I say this as a concession, not as a command.
NLT: I say this as a concession, not as a command.
KJV: But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.
Verse Commentary:
This short verse refers to a concession on Paul's part. However, it's possible to interpret this either in reference to the statement just made in verse 5, or to the one about to be delivered in verse 7.

If Paul is referring to the prior verse as a concession, he would be making it clear that mutual abstinence is something married couples may agree to for a time, not something Paul is commanding. The "concession" aspect would be Paul allowing for sexuality and marital agreements despite his personal preference for celibacy.

More likely is that Paul is prefacing his remark in the next verse: that he, personally, would like every Christian to be unmarried and unattached as he is. This verse, then, would mean to clarify that the words which follow are merely Paul's preference and his perspective. God does not command anyone to be like Paul in this way.

In the following verses, Paul implies that he's single and unburdened by strong sexual desire. He considers this a gift from God for himself. Seeing it as a good thing, he wishes more people had such a gift, for reasons he will reveal in the following passage. However, he understands that other people have other gifts and that God allows and honors both marriage and sex within marriage.
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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