What does 1 Corinthians 7:8 mean?
ESV: To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am.
NIV: Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.
NASB: But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.
CSB: I say to the unmarried and to widows: It is good for them if they remain as I am.
NLT: So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows — it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am.
KJV: I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.
Paul now agrees, to a point, with the opening statement of this chapter. That statement appears to have been quoted from the Corinthian's letter to Paul, asking him to clear up this issue for them (1 Corinthians 7:1).
Paul says, yes, for those who are not currently married, it is good to remain single. Paul himself is happily single. As he wrote in the previous verse, the ability to find contentment in the single, celibate life is a gift from God. To be single, in God's eyes, is not better or worse than being married. It is a result of the specific gifts given by God to specific individuals.
Paul's conclusion is that someone currently single should not seek marriage simply for the sake of being married. Marriage is not something Christians are obligated to pursue or attain. Marriage is not automatically better than singleness. This does not, of course, provide an excuse for sexual immorality, as Paul qualifies with a condition in the following verse.
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.
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.
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.
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 3/1/2024 9:25:40 PM
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