Study Sheet for I Corinthians 7:25-40 (click here for Study Notes)
Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy. Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are. Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs-how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world-how he can please his wife-and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world-how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin-this man also does the right thing. So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does even better.
A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is-and I think that I too have the Spirit of God. (NIV)
Paul addresses "the present circumstances" in v. 26 and tells the Corinthians that it is better not to marry. "It is good for you to remain as you are." Don't seek to marry if you're single; don't seek a divorce if you're married. Apparently Paul was referring to the immorality that abounded in Corinth and to the persecution of believers. (see v. 2, 28; 5:1; II Tim. 3:12)
1. Why would Paul advise staying single instead of having the fellowship of marriage during difficult times? (see v. 1, 8, 20, 21)
2. From what types of "troubles in this life" (v. 28) do you think Paul is hoping to spare the unmarried Corinthian believers?
Paul continues by saying that "the time is short," and "those who have wives should live as if they had none;" those who mourn and those who are happy should live as if they were not; and those who buy or possess things should live as if those things were not theirs to keep. "For the world in its present form is passing away."
1. What does Paul mean when he says, "the time is short"? (see v. 31; Romans 13:11,12; James 5:8; I Peter 4:7; I John 2:18)
2. What does Paul mean when he says, "those who have wives should live as if they had none"; those who mourn or are happy as if they were not, and those who buy or use things as if these things were not theirs?
3. How do these admonitions of Paul's relate to his statement that "the world in its present form is passing away?" (see Hebrews 12:27; 1:11, 12; Isa. 34:4; 54:10)
"I would like you to be free from concern," Paul continues. He makes the point that married people are preoccupied with pleasing their spouses, while unmarried people can devote themselves to the "Lord's affairs".
1. Why does Paul think an unmarried person can devote him or herself to the Lord better than a married one? (see I Tim 5:5; Luke 2:36,37)
2. Do you think an unmarried Christ-follower should remain single in order to have "undivided devotion to the Lord"? (Psalm 86:11; Ezekiel 11:19; I Ch 12:33; Matt 19:8-12, James 1:6-8)
3. Christianity was under attack in Corinth. Do you think these admonitions to refrain from marriage apply to situations in which the church is being persecuted more than in situations in which the church is at peace?
The passage between vs. 36-38 is alternately translated in the NASB thus: "But if any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter, if she is past her youth, and if it must be so, let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry.So then both he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better."
1. Does the alternate translation make you react differently to this passage than you do to the NIV passage? If so, How?
2. If this passage is directed at fathers of virgins, how might they do better by not giving their daughters in marriage?
3. In light of the persecution of the Christians in Corinth, how was Paul's concession that a virgin may marry her fiancée actually a compassionate decision for her?
4. Why does Paul back down and say marriage is permissible? (see Heb. 13:4, Prov. 18:22; Eph 5:23-33)
Paul ends this section of his letter by stating that if a woman's husband dies, she is free "to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord." He adds, however, that he thinks she will be happier if she remains single.
1. Why does Paul say she must marry a man who belongs to the Lord? (Gen 24:3; Deut. 22:10; II Cor. 6: 14-16; I Cor. 5:9, 10; 6:6; Eph. 5:7-11; I John 1:6)
2. Do you think Paul had a reason for addressing this verse to widows and not to widowers? If so, what?
1. Do family affairs take energy away from your walk with Christ?
2. How can you involve Jesus in your family so you spend your energy doing God's will?
3. To what extent is your family part of your work for God?
1. Is there a relationship or desire God is calling you to surrender to him?
2. Is God calling you to a commitment to him that you're putting off because of a competing relationship?
3. Ask God to send his Spirit into your heart to reveal what you must surrender. Accept his love and power, and praise him for giving you the strength and wisdom to walk in his will.
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Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Revised April 23, 2000.